The Marlins have signed Willians Astudillo to a minor league contract, according to reporter Arnold Santiago (Twitter link). The deal includes an invitation for “La Tortuga” to take part in the Marlins’ big league Spring Training camp.
Between his impressive ability to put the ball in play, his fan-friendly persona, and his ability to play almost anywhere on the diamond, Astudillo was a popular figure over his four seasons with the Twins. Astudillo’s high-contact approach hasn’t translated to much production at the plate, however, as he has batted .270/.295/.406 over 533 plate appearances at the Major League level.
The Marlins addressed their catching needs by trading for Jacob Stallings prior to the lockout, though since none of Alex Jackson, Payton Henry, or Nick Fortes has much MLB experience, Astudillo will provide some competition for the backup catching role. Given Astudillo’s versatility, Miami could deploy three catchers on the active roster, allowing Astudillo to provide depth at multiple other positions. The 30-year-old has played mostly as a catcher and corner infielder in the majors, but Astudillo has also made a handful of appearances as a second baseman, outfielder, and as a mop-up relief pitcher.
Astudillo was projected to earn $1.2MM in arbitration this season, but the Twins opted to release him in November, essentially giving him a brief jump on the non-tender market. The lockout delayed Astudillo from finding his next contract, but he has now found an interesting opportunity in Miami.