Free-agent catcher Welington Castillo is headed to the White Sox on a two-year, $15 million deal, the club announced on Friday. Castillo will receive $7.25 million in both 2018 and '19, while the White Sox hold an $8 million option for '20 with a $500,000 buyout.Castillo hit .282/.323/.490 with 20
Free-agent catcher Welington Castillo is headed to the White Sox on a two-year, $15 million deal, the club announced on Friday. Castillo will receive $7.25 million in both 2018 and '19, while the White Sox hold an $8 million option for '20 with a $500,000 buyout.
Castillo hit .282/.323/.490 with 20 home runs and 53 RBIs in 96 games for the Orioles in 2017, after signing with Baltimore last offseason. His 20 homers were a career high, and his .282 batting average was his best over a full season.
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"We view it as an upgrade both in the short-term and the long-term," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. "He's been one of the most productive catchers in baseball over the last few years. We think he'll make an impact on both our young pitchers and our young catchers."
The 30-year-old is an eight-year Major League veteran, debuting for the Cubs in 2010, so this marks a return to Chicago for Castillo and also reunites him with White Sox manager Rick Renteria, who was Castillo's manager with the Cubs in 2014. He also played for the Mariners and D-backs before joining the Orioles. Castillo has hit double-digit home runs in four straight seasons, averaging more than 16 a year since 2014, and said playing for Renteria was something that drew him to signing with the White Sox.
"It means a lot for me to play for him again," Castillo said. "I've worked with him. He's a great human being and a great manager. He's a player's manager. I'm excited to have the opportunity to play for him. I'm going to do everything I can to help this team win."
Hahn also said he believes Castillo has improved defensively as a catcher, as the knock on Castillo early in his career was he struggled with pitch framing. But Castillo said it remains a point of emphasis for him to improve, and he's asked backstops such as Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina for advice.
"This last year with Baltimore he continued to make progress in that area," Hahn said. "It says a lot about his work ethic and character."
The White Sox used Omar Narvaez and Kevan Smith as their primary catchers last season, but neither put up the level of offensive production that Castillo did. The 25-year-old Narvaez hit .277/.373/.340 with two home runs in 90 games, and the 29-year-old Smith hit .283/.309/.388 with four homers in 87 games.
Castillo said he's looking forward to working with the other catchers this spring, and plans to study the club's young pitchers over the coming months to get a better feel before the club heads to Arizona for Spring Training.
"There are a lot of young guys," Castillo said. "It's a young team, but I wanted to come here and help them."
Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB)
After posting a helpful .282 batting average and reaching the 20-homer plateau for the first time last season, Castillo should fall comfortably into the top 10 catchers for 2018 fantasy leagues. Although he may have limited RBI opportunities playing for a club that ranked 23rd in runs last season, the catcher should continue to provide solid power -- especially at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Rhett Bollinger has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011.