11:06PM: The trade has been officially announced by both teams.
5:21PM: Right-hander Gerardo Reyes is going to Los Angeles as the return for Castro, MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell reports (Twitter link). The hard-throwing Reyes has 26 MLB innings on his resume, posting a 7.62 ERA, 13.2 K/9, and 3.45 K/BB over 26 innings for San Diego in 2019. Advanced metrics painted a much more favorable picture of Reyes’ performance, however, as he was hurt by a stunningly low 47.3% strand rate.
3:27PM: The Padres have acquired catcher Jason Castro from the Angels, confirms Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The 33-year-old veteran had been scratched from today’s game due to mounting trade interest, as first reported by Jon Heyman of MLB Network.
The return headed to the Angels in the deal is not yet known. More than likely, it won’t be a significant haul for the Halos, given that Castro is due to hit free agency at season’s end, making him essentially a one-month rental.
Castro will head to San Diego to complement Austin Hedges in the Padres’ catching mix. The move represent more win-now aggression on San Diego’s part; they’ve been busy this trade season, already making deals for reliever Trevor Rosenthal and first baseman Mitch Moreland this weekend.
The former Astro enjoyed something of a revitalizing season with the Twins last year, with his .767 OPS representing his highest single-season mark since 2013. That was fueled by a nice power surge, as Castro slugged 13 home runs in just 275 plate appearances.
That production hasn’t quite been there this season, as Castro’s batting average has slumped below .200 and his OPS is down to .707, but we ought to be careful not to rush to conclusions given that he’s made just 62 plate appearances. He’s hitting the ball just as hard as last year while getting on base at a solid clip thanks to a 16.1% walk rate. Interestingly, he’s hitting the ball in the air more than ever, so the jury’s still out on the merits of that development.
As a result, the Angels rewarded Castro with a one-year, $6.85MM contract in the winter. Unfortunately, he only wound up playing 18 games for the Halos before being shipped out. He’ll be owed just a bit more than $1MM for the remainder of the season.
In San Diego, he’ll offer a nice alternative to the defensive-minded Hedges, who’s working with a mere .614 OPS for the year. He’s probably more capable offensively than both Hedges and incumbent backup Francisco Mejia, who’s currently on the injured list. Needless to say, there will be a bit of a defensive drop-off from Hedges to Castro, the latter of whom logged above-average framing numbers a season ago but is getting somewhat negative returns thus far in 2020.
Castro’s presence will likely squeeze the young Mejia out of some at-bats, but the Padres will be happy to bring aboard a veteran of Castro’s ilk as they gear up for a postseason run in 2020, shifting their focus away from development and towards winning.