Veteran catcher Welington Castillo has opted out of the 2020 season, Nationals manager Dave Martinez told reporters Friday (Twitter link via the Washington Post’s Jesse Dougherty). Castillo inked a minor league contract with the Nationals back in January and was originally announced as part of the team’s 60-man player pool. However, it appears he’ll opt not to play during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Castillo likely wouldn’t have opened the year in the Majors, barring an injury to Yan Gomes or Kurt Suzuki, but as a 10-year Major League veteran, he was quite likely the first line of defense should either Gomes or Suzuki need to miss time. With Castillo forgoing the season, he won’t be paid and won’t accrue service time. Catchers Raudy Read, Tres Barrera and Jakson Reetz are all still in the Nationals’ 60-man pool.
The 33-year-old Castillo wrapped up a two-year deal with the White Sox last year. Chicago inked him at a $15.5MM total over two years, and while he hit reasonably well in limited action in 2018 (.259/.304/.406), his 2019 season was the worst of his career at the plate. In 251 plate appearances, Castillo mustered just a .209/.267/.417 slash.
Castillo becomes the third member of the Nationals organization to sit out the 2020 season, joining first baseman Ryan Zimmerman and right-hander Joe Ross. He’ll be a free agent at season’s end and likely return to the open market in search of another minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training. In 2701 career plate appearances, Castillo is a .254/.313/.426 hitter with 98 home runs.