The Rays have made an offer to free agent catcher Jason Castro, agent Fred Wray tells Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The Rays “have made an initial offer and are right in the thick of things and being considered by Jason,” Wray tells Topkin.
It’s not clear if Tampa Bay is one of the three American League clubs that was said to have made an offer to Castro last week, but the former Astro has been the most talked-about catcher on the free agent market to date. The Braves and Twins have both been connected to Castro, and Topkin writes that the White Sox could be in the mix for the Stanford product and former No. 10 overall pick as well. The Astros, too, were known to want Castro back in 2017, but yesterday’s acquisition of Brian McCann should ensure that Castro plays 2017 with a new team.
The 29-year-old Castro hit just .210/.307/.377 this past season but was considerably better against right-handed pitching (.757 OPS) than lefties (.478 OPS) and is one of the game’s premier pitch framers. ESPN’s Buster Olney has written that there’s an expectation in the industry that Castro will sign for at least three years, though Wray told Topkin that it was too soon to determine the length of contract Castro will ultimately command.
Pitch-framing has long been a point of emphasis for the Rays, but they’ve traded off quite a bit of offense in their search for premium framers, receiving poor production from players such as Rene Rivera, Hank Conger, Ryan Hanigan and Jose Molina in recent years. While Castro doesn’t bring a premium bat to the table himself, he’s a career .247/.328/.424 hitter against right-handed pitching and would pair well with right-handed-hitting Curt Casali to form a potentially solid offensive and defensive platoon.