White Sox catcher Welington Castillo has formally concluded his 80-game PED suspension, but he won’t be going straight from the restricted list onto the active roster. The Chicago organization announced today that the veteran will instead move onto the 10-day disabled list with shoulder inflammation.
Castillo, 31, got off to a strong start at the plate this year after inking a two-year, $15MM contract early last winter. He was producing at a .267/.309/.466 clip with six home runs in 123 plate appearances when news broke of his positive test for erythopoieton, a substance prohibited under the MLB-MLBPA Joint Drug Agreement.
Though he had played in five rehab games prior to the conclusion of his suspension, Castillo is evidently not ready to return to the majors. It’s not clear at this point how long he’ll be down, but any minute chance of a late-August trade can assuredly be ruled out.
In his absence, the White Sox have relied upon Omar Narvaez and Kevan Smith behind the plate. The former has been quite impressive with the bat, improving upon his solid numbers entering the year with an under-the-radar breakout season. He’s hitting at a .280/.374/.435 clip with an impressive 41:30 K/BB ratio in 240 plate appearances.
Presumably, Castillo will share time with Narvaez when this DL stint is over. But it stands to reason that the organization will want to get a long look at the younger, more controllable player. It’s certainly possible that Castillo will end up as trade fodder at some point, but it’s also worth bearing in mind that the South Siders could see the ensuing offseason as an opportune time to make some roster improvements in hopes of challenging in a division that has easily been the worst in baseball in 2018. Hanging onto Castillo, rather than trying to move him after a messy campaign, may well be the most sensible approach.