Pittsburgh Pirates: Candidates to Be Optioned to Triple-A When Bryan Reynolds Returns

Who could go when Bryan Reynolds returns?

Jun 9, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Pittsburgh Pirates left fielder Bryan Reynolds (10)
Jun 9, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates left fielder Bryan Reynolds (10) / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
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Rodolfo Castro

It wasn’t that long ago that Rodolfo Castro looked like he may have secured the regular second base job for quite some time. Going into June, Castro was batting .264/.368/.426 with a .350 wOBA and 119 wRC+. Castro’s walk and strikeout rates greatly improved from 2022, going from 7.9% to 11.2% and 26.6% to 23.7%, respectively. Castro silently was one of the best second basemen in the league, ranking top ten in wRC+, wOBA, and OPS. However, June has been a rough month for Castro, so much so it might lead to his demotion, at least for now.

June saw Castro bat .184/.200/.273. His wOBA is closer to the Mendoza line than .300 at .201, and his wRC+ is a horrendous 23 in the month. That’s almost a 100% dropoff in production from April-May and into June. While Castro has cut his strikeout rate down to 24.4%, his walk rate is a meager 2.2%. To put into perspective how bad Castro has been, Austin Hedges has a wRC+ of 20 on the year. Castro is only 3% better than that.

One positive is that Castro has also looked much better at second base. After grading out below average in the eyes of defensive runs saved and outs above average in 2022, he’s been about a league average defensive 2B so far this year with +1 DRS and zero OAA. UZR/150, however, paints him in an extremely positive light at +6.1. Though his defense at shortstop is horrendous with -5 defensive runs saved and -4 outs above average in less than 250 innings.

Giving Castro the option to Triple-A would give Nick Gonzales an attempt to take the bull by the horns at second base. However, given that Castro was producing at a quality level less than a month ago, it would seem like a quick hook for him. Players go through ups and downs in their careers, and this could just be a low moment for the infielder. Still, June has been worryingly bad for Castro, and he does have options remaining.