MIAMI -- Starlin Castro played all 162 games for the Marlins this year, but the 29-year-old infielder’s days with the organization now appear to be over.
On Friday, the organization officially declined to pick up the club option that would have paid Castro $16 million for 2020. The Marlins will cover the $1 million buyout in his deal, and Castro will now become a free agent.
The move was expected, and a decision had to be made by Sunday.
Castro recovered from a sluggish start in 2019, and he ended up being Miami’s most productive offensive player, hitting .270/.300/.436 while establishing personal highs for home runs (22) and RBIs (86). Still, the door is not completely closed for Castro to return to Miami on a lesser deal, but chances of that happening appear unlikely.
With the way Castro performed this year, he’s likely created a market for himself. The Nationals, perhaps, could be an option, especially if free agent Anthony Rendon and/or Howie Kendrick sign elsewhere. The Angels, among other clubs, are possibilities; they previously touched base with the Marlins on possible trade scenarios for Castro.
The Marlins explored moving Castro prior to the July 31 Trade Deadline, but his salary ($11 million in 2019) was too pricey for teams. In free agency, Castro could sign for about $7 million in 2020.
After spending two seasons on a team building for the future, Castro’s first priority appears to be signing with a club closer to contending.
Castro’s 2019 season didn’t start off particularly well, with him hitting .245 with six home runs and 34 RBIs before the All-Star break. Manager Don Mattingly repeatedly said, “Water reaches its level,” and that would apply to Castro. After the All-Star break, the veteran picked it up, belting 16 home runs and driving home 52 runs while hitting .302.
The Marlins acquired Castro from the Yankees after the 2017 season in the Giancarlo Stanton trade. Also from the deal, Miami received two prospects: right-hander Jorge Guzman and infielder Jose Devers. According to MLB Pipeline, Devers is Miami’s No. 10 prospect, and Guzman ranks 16th.
Along with declining Castro's club option, the Marlins on Friday also reinstated infielder Brian Anderson, right-hander Drew Steckenrider and catcher Chad Wallach from the 60-day injured list. Their 40-man roster now stands at 35.