According to an industry source, Orioles have reached an agreement with free-agent catcher Welington Castillo. (Baltimore Sun video)
The Orioles are going to miss Matt Wieters, and it would be hard not to after the role he has played in the team's renaissance. He has been a top defensive guy and a great handler of pitchers while emerging as a strong team leader.
But Welington Castillo is a solid replacement and the Orioles, if the pending one-year deal (with a player option) is completed, will be getting him under terms favorable to Dan Duquette's long-term vision for the catching position.
The Orioles are hopeful that top catching prospect Chance Sisco will be ready to play in the major leagues by the end of the coming season. The Castillo deal could stretch through 2018, but that supplies some additional security at the position in the possible event that Sisco is not fully ready by then.
The statistical difference between Wieters and Castillo is not dramatic. Wieters has 162-game averages of 20 homers and 80 RBI throughout his career. Castillo's average in those two categories are 19 homers and 73 RBI. Their slash lines are almost identical. Castillo's is .255/.318/416. Wieters' is .256/.318/.421.
They also are fairly similar when it comes to throwing out opposing baserunners. Castillo has a career success rate of 31 percent, though that number spiked to a career-high 38 percent with the Diamondbacks last season. Wieters has thrown out 33 percent of baserunners over the course of his career, and his success rate was 35 percent last year.
Of course, the reason Wieters should demand so much more money as a free agent is his longer track record and four All-Star selections. He also strikes out significantly less and is known more for his ability to handle pitchers. He also is coming off a base salary of $15.8 million after accepting the Orioles' qualifying offer last year.
Castillo made just $3.7 million last year and was expected to make about $6 million in arbitration before the Diamondbacks chose not to tender him a contract. His deal with the Orioles is for $6 million next season and $7 million if he exercises his option for 2018, which seems unlikely if he has another solid season.
Orioles officials were surprised the Diamondbacks chose not to tender Castillo, since he would have been tradeable at that arbitration price, but they've certainly got to be happy with the way things turned out.