Mariners News: M’s Acquire C Welington Castillo From Chicago Cubs


The Seattle Mariners announced on Tuesday morning that they have traded Yoervis Medina to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for Welington Castillo. Medina had been pitching for the Tacoma Rainiers after his recent demotion from the M’s, and Castillo was serving as the Cubs’ 3rd string catcher.

Welington Castillo became expendable in Chicago after they acquired Miguel Montero this past offseason. Castillo has struggled this season in a reserve role, hitting just .163 with 2 home runs and 5 RBI’s across 43 at bats. He has struck out 12 times and nursed just 3 free passes.

These numbers are not overly impressive, but Castillo has fared reasonably well during his career at the plate. He spent parts of 6 seasons with the North Siders, hitting .252 with 29 home runs and 110 RBI’s across 1006 at bats. He boasts a career on base percentage of .320 and a slugging percentage of .398.

The 28-year-old backstop is widely regarded in baseball circles as a plus defender behind the plate. He posted a .993 fielding percentage and an 8.61 range factor per 9 innings last season. Both numbers easily surpassed the league average. Castillo possesses an above average arm, and his 33% caught stealing percentage in 2014 speaks to that.

However, just as is the case with his offensive numbers, Castillo has experienced significant regression this season. Castillo has only been behind the plate for 64 innings in 2015, but his .966 fielding percentage and 7.88 range factor are very disappointing.

I have nothing against Welington Castillo, he is a serviceable backup catcher, but I feel like Jack Zduriencik has given up far too much to acquire him. This move is a bit of a head scratcher for me.

The Chicago Cubs are getting a high quality reliever in exchange for their 3rd string catcher. Yoervis Medina has been a mainstay of the Mariners’ bullpen in each of the last 3 seasons. Medina has a career record of 10-9 and an ERA of 2.82 across 137.0 innings. He has averaged 9.2 strikeouts per 9 innings and walked 4.9. 2014 was his best in a Mariners’ uniform when Medina posted a 2.68 ERA and played a key role in one of the best bullpens in baseball.

Sep 28, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners relief pitcher Yoervis Medina (31) pitches to the Los Angeles Angels during the eighth inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Medina fell out of favor this season, but the numbers never supported his recent demotion to Tacoma. The 26-year-old right-hander went 1-0 and registered a 3.00 ERA across 12.0 innings with the Mariners in 2015. His strikeouts were down, but he was still an effective pitcher for the M’s. I was fully expecting to see him return to Seattle in the near future.

Yoervis Medina is a steep price to pay for a backup catcher. Medina is not scheduled to become a free agent until after the 2018 season, and he is one of the higher upside arms in the Mariners’ ‘pen. The Seattle bullpen has had a hard time duplicating their success from a year ago. Danny Farquhar has really struggled in 2015, and Mark Lowe has a 4.14 career ERA. Losing Medina really hurts the M’s depth on the back end.

Personally, I will miss hearing “Funky Cold Medina” as Yoervis trots toward the mound. I still think Medina has set-up man stuff, and I think the M’s might regret making this trade.

I do not buy that Welington Castillo is a significant upgrade over current backup Jesus Sucre. Both Catchers play a similar style. Jesus Sucre is currently hitting a meager .067, but his defense has remained strong. Sucre and Castillo are never going to tear the league up offensively, but they both play quality defense. Neither player is overly adept at calling games. Sucre is younger and has 3 more seasons of club control compared to Castillo. Sucre has disappointed in 2015, but Castillo has been equally as frustrating.

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Mike Zunino is a future All Star, and adding another catcher with starting experience makes little sense to me. Bringing in Castillo to push Zunino would be a terrible idea. Zunino has had a terrible start to this season at the plate, but he is still regarded as one of the top young backstops in baseball. Zunino is the next Yadier Molina, and he is improving every day. He needs the support of the organization, not competition.

Needless to say, I am not a fan of this trade. Medina immediately becomes one of the best relievers in the Cubs’ bullpen, and I do not see much difference between Sucre and Castillo. Hopefully I am proven wrong, but in my opinion, the Cubs pulled a fast one on Zduriencik and the M’s today.

Next: Mariners News: Brad Miller Named AL Player of the Week

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