Ramon Castro Rumors
UPDATE, 11-16-07: As expected, Torrealba has inked a three-year deal with the Mets. Newsday reports the deal is worth $14.4MM. Since Torrealba was a Type B free agent, the Rockies will get a supplemental pick for their loss.
One half of Omar Minaya's desired catching tandem seems set: Ramon Castro has signed a two-year, $4MM contract. It'll be announced after he has a physical. Honestly I thought Castro could've done better and marketing himself as a starter, but I guess he's happy in New York.
The other part is waiting to see if Yorvit Torrealba will accept the Mets' aggressive three-year, $15MM offer. Adam Rubin's source speculates that the Mets could even make it four years with an option for 2012. How is Torrealba such a hot commodity? David Lennon and Ken Davidoff say Torrealba is now also mulling a three-year offer from the Rockies. We should know one way or another today.
Torrealba and Castro don't make for an ideal platoon; the idea is more to keep each well-rested. Over the last three years Castro has significantly better numbers against both lefties and righties than Torrealba, but he's the backup. It sounds like the Mets want Torrealba for less tangible reasons - his passion and his gamecalling.
The Rockies, by the way, may turn to Paul Lo Duca. They don't expect to retain Torrealba.
UPDATE, AFTERNOON OF 11-14-07: Matthew Cerrone of MetsBlog suggests that the Mets are offering Torrealba a three-year, $15MM deal. Yikes. He's barely more than a backup to me.
UPDATE, MORNING OF 11-14-07: Ken Rosenthal agrees, it looks like a Torrealba/Castro tandem for the Mets. Interestingly they're expected to split playing time about evenly. Creative!
The Associated Press is reporting that the Mets are close to re-signing catcher Ramon Castro. I'd figured Castro would ask for starter money, but maybe not.
The Mets also plan on making an offer to free agent catcher Yorvit Torrealba, according to ESPN Radio (hat tip to MetsBlog). Torrealba currently has a two-year, $6MM offer on the table from the Rockies. If he's a man of his word, he'll give the Rox a chance to match the Mets' offer.
Torrealba and Castro could combine to really shut down the running game, though both had off years in that department in '07. Torrealba's problem can be attributed to a lingering strained shoulder. Castro's, I have no idea.
Ben Shpigel of the New York Times has some new Mets info for us today.
- Surprisingly, Shpigel believes the one free agent starter the Mets will seriously consider is Livan Hernandez. That is odd because I had read Livan wasn't high on Omar Minaya's list. We've seen the Mets connected to free agents Byung-Hyun Kim, Carlos Silva, Hiroki Kuroda, Kyle Lohse, and Jason Jennings so far this offseason.
- As far as some unsung trade opportunities, my Mets guy says Ervin Santana, Chris Capuano, Claudio Vargas, and Noah Lowry are being considered.
- According to Shpigel, the Mets hope to re-sign Ramon Castro as their backup catcher. I don't see that happening, as he'll probably be able to snag a starting job elsewhere. Options the Mets are considering to start at catcher include Yorvit Torrealba, Ramon Hernandez, Ronny Paulino, Gerald Laird, and Paul Lo Duca. A source tells me the D'Backs' Miguel Montero may also be on the radar.
- Shpigel says Luis Castillo might command a four-year deal. Say what? The Mets may yet re-sign Castillo but want to see what the trade market offers first. Shpigel names Orlando Hudson, while I've also heard Alberto Callaspo.
As usual, the Denver Post's Troy E. Renck has the scoop on all things Rockies.
- The Rockies have made a two year offer to Kaz Matsui in the neighborhood of $6MM total. That's fair; we all know his home/road splits. The Cubs and Padres were named as other interested parties yesterday, but the Padres have decided to go with internal options at second base. Why the Cubs would add a second baseman is still beyond me. They already have Ryan Theriot, Mark DeRosa, Mike Fontenot, and Eric Patterson. The Cubs' plan to add speed concerns me.
- The Rox have also put in a two-year offer to Yorvit Torrealba, for roughly the same $6MM amount. It sounds like Torrealba will wait to field offers from other teams, chiefly the Mets. His agent says the Mets' offer would have to dwarf the Rockies' for him to consider it. Renck names Jose Molina, Paul Lo Duca, Jason Kendall, and Ramon Castro as backup options at catcher. I like the idea of Molina.
- Scott Boras client Matt Holliday is under Colorado's control for the 2008 and 2009 seasons, though he'll start getting quite expensive in arbitration. The Rockies will make an offer to lock him up for 2008-11 for roughly $60MM. It's fair, but with Boras talking in Holliday's ear he'll probably wait for free agency in the winter of 2009-10. They'll pay lip service to the idea that he wants to stay in Colorado but ultimately he'll take a seven year, $150MM offer from some other club. That's how I see it unfolding, at least.
- Brian Fuentes is indeed on the market; expect many teams in the mix for him. While Garrett Atkins won't be offered a multiyear contract, the Rockies won't trade him this winter.
- Finally, the Rockies have an eye on Brett Tomko to fill a swingman role.
Plenty of action around the Mets lately; Omar Minaya has his work cut out for him. Hat tip to MetsBlog for several of the links.
- The sensational storyline here is that Minaya will meet with Scott Boras to discuss Alex Rodriguez. However, Boras and Minaya might spend more time discussing Kyle Lohse and Eric Gagne than A-Rod - the Mets' focus is pitching.
- Newsday's Ken Davidoff reminds us of past trade talks regarding Joe Blanton, Jose Contreras, and Jon Garland. Those talks may be re-opened, though Davidoff notes that the White Sox aren't enamored of Lastings Milledge. Additionally, the Mets will meet with Carlos Silva's people this week.
- Buster Olney discusses the Mets' pursuit for pitching today in his blog. They need a horse, somebody who can chew up innings. Aside from the aforementioned Silva and Blanton, Olney names Roy Oswalt, Dan Haren, Scott Kazmir, and Dontrelle Willis as possible targets (though Marc Lancaster considers the declaration of Kazmir's availability to be "dubious at best." Meanwhile one exec thinks the Rays would only make him available if "his arm is about to blow.") Olney's guess is that the Mets will acquire Blanton. The Mets have some combination of Mike Pelfrey, Philip Humber, Lastings Milledge, Carlos Gomez, and Aaron Heilman to offer. There are pros and cons to dealing each.
- There are other concerns besides pitching: second base and catcher. Besides the forthcoming monster offer to Jorge Posada, the Mets are considering Paul Lo Duca and Yorvit Torrealba as fallbacks. Ramon Castro is looking for a two-year deal, and hopes it's with the Mets. However, the Rockies have their eye on him.
- Pedro Martinez expects to pitch beyond 2008. Whether that will be for the Mets or someone else, who knows.
- Marlon Anderson's two-year deal will be announced today, according to Adam Rubin. The Mets will pass on Jose Valentin and Brian Lawrence's options.
The Miami Herald's Barry Jackson has all sorts of info concerning the state of the Florida Marlins.
- We've heard this before - the Fish can't afford to keep both Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera. Do you trade the cheaper guy, or the more valuable one? As Jackson says, it really just depends on the offers. It wouldn't be a complete shock to see both traded if the Marlins received separate knockout offers on each.
- The Marlins are likely to non-tender Miguel Olivo, with an eye on bringing Paul Lo Duca back to Florida to provide veteran leadership for the young pitching staff. Other free agents on the radar: Yorvit Torrealba, Michael Barrett, Jason Kendall, and former Marlin Ramon Castro. Several of these are $5MM players, so the team's owner would have to sign off.
- Some kind of MLB-ready starting pitching is likely to come back in a Willis or Cabrera deal. But otherwise the Fish will try an injury-discounted guy like Kris Benson. The market has no shortage of these types - Matt Clement, Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia, Jason Jennings, Jon Lieber, and Jaret Wright all fit the mold.
- The Marlins will listen on Scott Olsen, but aren't opposed to keeping him.
- For now, Hanley Ramirez and Miguel Cabrera are staying put on the left side of the infield. Good luck improving the defense.
- The Marlins would like to bring Aaron Boone back for '08.
One name not originally on my list of free agent catchers this winter was the Mets' Ramon Castro. I didn't view him as a potential starter. But with nine homers in 124 ABs for the Mets this year, Castro could move to the front of a weak class of catchers. Assuming Jorge Posada and Ivan Rodriguez never hit the open market, that leaves Castro, Michael Barrett, Paul Lo Duca, and Jason Kendall. Let's take a closer look at Castro.
Castro was picked 17th overall by the Astros in the 1994 draft. A couple of other backstops went a few picks before him - Jason Varitek and Paul Konerko. Castro was a 22 year-old with a .759 OPS at Double A back in 1998 when the Astros decided to trade him to Florida for reliever Jay Powell. Powell was very solid for Houston, a team that won the NL Central easily that year.
Castro spent most of '99 in Triple A, posting a .757 OPS with decent power. Florida's "Catcher of the Future" was recalled in August and got his feet wet with 67 ABs that year.
He seemed on the inside track to split catching duties with Mike Redmond in March of 2000. However, the Marlins chose to keep Sandy Martinez and send Castro back to Triple A to start the season. This time, Castro mashed Triple A pitching - .335/.380/.628 - and made the All-Star team. The Marlins called him up in late July. He became the team's #1 catcher, but didn't hit.
Not comfortable with Castro as their starter anymore, the Marlins went out and signed Charles Johnson for the 2001 season. Though Castro was out of options, the Marlins sent him to Triple A in April and he surprisingly cleared waivers. Still only 25, Castro again posted an OPS over 1.000 at Triple A. Teams started calling Dave Dombrowski, interested in making a deal. Castro earned only a September call-up in '01. The Blue Jays expressed interest that winter, but Castro stayed put.
Castro seemed certain to be traded heading into 2002, but an injury to Johnson opened the door for him to begin the season with the Marlins. An elbow issue surfaced in May, but Dr. James Andrews deemed it a sprain and Castro was back by mid-June. Castro received only 101 ABs that year, but did begin to show some power with a .455 SLG.
Heading into 2003, the Marlins still didn't have faith in Castro so they signed Ivan Rodriguez to a one-year deal. Good idea. Castro stuck in the Majors most of the year but got only 53 ABs as the third catcher.
Then in late August of '03, Castro was arrested on a rape charge. A few days later he posted bond and rejoined the Marlins, declaring his innocence. His hearing was postponed, but the Fish didn't put him on the playoff roster. Prior to the hearing, Castro signed a one-year, $400K deal for 2004 with the Marlins. He entered a not-guilty plea as the trial was pushed back to October of '04. Most of the playing time went to Mike Redmond that year, and Castro hit the DL in June with an inflamed toe. Mike Lowell suggested that the impending trial contributed to Castro's .135/.231/.260 line in 2004.
Assigned to Triple A in October, Castro opted for free agency instead. As for the trial, the charge was reduced to misdemeanor indecent assault and Castro plead no-contest. The plea did not acknowledge wrongdoing. Castro was sentenced to a year of probation.
In December of 2004, new Mets GM Omar Minaya signed Castro to a minor-league deal. He spent some time on the DL for a sprained quad, but still racked up a career-high 209 ABs as Mike Piazza's backup. He posted a decent .756 OPS.
The Mets signed Castro to an $800K deal for '06, but a strained rib cage caused him to miss time. While rehabbing that, he tore his medial meniscus and needed surgery. He finally made it back at the end of September, but it was a lost year.
Castro signed for $850K last winter to again serve as Paul Lo Duca's backup. Lo Duca hasn't been healthy or hitting, and Castro's having his best season with an .889 OPS.
In 119 games as a Met, Castro has a .255/.324/.455 line with 21 HR in 459 ABs. One has to wonder if he could do that in a single season. If so, he'd be one of the better catchers available. In the past, Castro has shown the ability to throw out 30%+ of would-be basestealers. However, he's nailed just two of 25 this year. Mets fans - what's up with that?
Teams like the Devil Rays, Mets, Cubs, Astros, and Padres may all be looking for catchers this winter. Castro should get consideration as a regular, and might be a decent buy at two years, $8MM or so.