Jason Castro has been the most frequently discussed free-agent catcher to this point, and multiple reports today have continued to shine a light on his market. Earlier today, ESPN’s Buster Olney again linked Castro to the Twins and added that there’s an expectation that Castro will get “at least” a three-year deal in free agency. Olney followed up that report with a tweet indicating that the Braves are among the “most serious bidders” for Castro’s services. That’s not the first time that Castro has been tied to Atlanta, but Olney’s report carries more conviction than previous links between the two sides.
SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo reports (Twitter links) that five teams have joined the incumbent Astros in the mix for Castro right now, which seems to reflect the lay of the land. Yahoo’s Jeff Passan reported last week that Castro had offers from three AL clubs, and the Twins have been reported to be interested but haven’t made an offer, as Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reports (Twitter link). Adding them and the Braves into the mix makes five clubs, though the identities of the other interested AL clubs remains unknown.
The Rays are one potential match, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times recently noted that they’re hoping to find a new starting catcher this winter and could be drawn to Castro’s left-handed bat and framing skills. Topkin, though, did not specifically note whether the Rays have reached out. Other AL clubs in need of catching help include the Orioles, White Sox, and Angels.
Castro, 29, batted a disappointing .210/.307/.377 last year, but he performs considerably better against right-handed pitching and is regarded as one of baseball’s elite pitch framers. He’s thrown out potential base-stealers at a roughly league-average rate throughout his career, and while he had a down season in that regard in 2016 (24 percent), he was considerably above the league average just one year prior (36 percent). He’s joined by Matt Wieters and the currently injured Wilson Ramos in the top tier of the free-agent market for catchers.