This dispute seemed to be one of principle, as practicalities would have suggested a compromise with just $250K at issue. Castro had been projected by MLBTR to earn only $4.6MM in his final season of arb eligibility, and Houston seemingly felt it had already gone high enough in its negotiations. Indeed, the team reportedly took a “file and trial” stance with respect to his case.
Castro earned $4MM last year but turned in a disappointing overall campaign. Despite carrying a rare left-handed bat for a backstop, and receiving near-regular playing time in the prior two seasons, he only took 375 plate appearances. Already coming off of a down 2014, Castro did not post the hoped-for turnaround. All told, since his breakout 2013 campaign, he owns a .217/.284/.365 slash with 25 home runs.
There’s cause to think there could be more in the tank, of course. Castro has shown an average to above-average bat in prior campaigns, and did manage a useful .219/.299/.408 batting line against right-handed pitching last year. His strikeout rate remains a concern, but he’s succeeded with big K numbers before, and might be in line for some positive regression after posting a .280 BABIP.
Castro has also turned himself into a highly-regarded defender — see here for one recent evaluation from a statistical perspective, and read this on his framing. As a defensively-proficient, lefty-swinging receiver, he doesn’t need to do much with the bat to justify a prominent role, and the glove gives him a nice floor. Castro should still more than justify his salary, and his good power (.154 ISO in 2015) leaves some room for upside.