Needing a backstop with Kurt Suzuki a free agent, the Twins chose to move on as they just signed catcher Jason Castro to a three-year, $24.5 million contract.
Castro has spent his entire six-year career as a Houston Astro and is known for a fair bit of pop in his bat along with a patient eye at the plate. However, he has also been plagued with a rapidly rising strikeout rate (up to 32.7% last season) and a plummeting batting average ever since his career-best .276/.350/.485 triple-slash with 18 home runs back in 2013. Toss in a complete inability to hit lefthanded pitching and Castro is primed to serve in a platoon with righthanded-hitting John Ryan Murphy.
However, Castro’s main calling card will be his defense, an area of weakness at the catcher position over the past couple years. Suzuki was not known for throwing out baserunners or for pitch framing, a skill that has drawn more attention in the last half-decade. Not only has Castro thrown out over 25% of basestealers, but his pitch-framing was also near the top in baseball. Though the jury is still out on framing’s significance to the game, all I’m going to say is that the Twins have employed terrible framers in Suzuki and Ryan Doumit over the past five years and coincidentally their pitching staff has been pretty bad as well. Hopefully the addition of Castro immediately leads to an improvement on the mound as well.
I know some people would rather have seen Matt Wieters or the return of Wilson Ramos, but Castro was cheaper than both, has better defense than Wieters, and also pairs better with Murphy than Ramos. This is a solid start to the offseason for Derek Falvey and the Twins.