The Twins and utility player Willi Castro are in agreement on a minor league deal, reports Darren Wolfson of SKOR Radio North. Castro will receive an invitation to major league Spring Training.
Castro, 26 in April, first cracked the majors with the Tigers in 2019 and has been serving a utility role for them since. He’s shown some exciting raw tools but has generally struggled to fully break out with the bat. In 303 games thus far in his career, he’s hit 24 home runs but walked in just 4.7% of his trips to the plate and struck out in 24.1% of them. His batting line is currently .245/.292/.381 for wRC+ of 86, indicating he’s been 14% below league average. Inconsistency seems to be a factor in his work at the plate, as he’s only in the 10th percentile in terms of barrel rate and hard hit rate but 79th percentile in terms of maximum exit velocity. In other words, he can crush the ball but just hasn’t been doing it very often.
But he also has other attributes, besides that intermittent power. His sprint speed is in the 78th percentile in the league, which helped him steal nine bases in each of the past two seasons. He also has defensive versatility, having played all three outfield positions and the three infield positions to the left of first base. His arm strength is ranked in the 87th percentile and his outfielder jump in the 78th. As a switch-hitter, he brings versatility to the other side of his game as well.
Castro crossed the three-year service line in 2022 and was eligible for arbitration for the first time this winter. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projected him for a raise to a $1.7MM salary in 2023. However, his struggles were enough that the Tigers decided to move on, as they non-tendered Castro at the deadline in November.
For the Twins, they dealt with a mountain of injuries in 2022, making it a logical move to add some depth for 2023. They are loaded with outfielders at the moment, meaning Castro’s best path to retaking a roster spot would likely be the infield. The most likely arrangement on the dirt right now would see Luis Arraez at first base, Jorge Polanco at second, Kyle Farmer at shortstop and Jose Miranda at third. Nick Gordon could be in the utility/bench infielder spot for now, but he’s also in the outfield mix. Royce Lewis could be a factor down the line but he’s recovering from surgery on a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee for a second straight year and isn’t expected back until midseason.
If Castro can earn his way into Minnesota’s plans, he still has an option year remaining, which would allow the club to shuffle him between Triple-A and the majors throughout the year. If he impresses enough to work his way into their future plans, he could be retained at least through 2025 via arbitration.
Wow? Did I get it right?
Shouldn’t Willi buy a vowel? “e”?
A defensive liability in the IF but was starting to play well in the OF last season. He has shown flashes of offense but just never consistent enough. His clock ran out in Detroit. But there is enough talent there to take a chance on. Don’t be surprised if he makes the Twins out of spring training.
Maybe he’ll do better outside Detroit. Such an awful organization to come up in.
Good luck Willi !
Willi looked absolutely horrendous in the IF but has an absolute cannon in the OF. Bat has always been inconsistent. Wish him the best, seems like a good kid.
T’in’s are finally making some moves !
Some Tiger fans are absolutely gnashing their teeth over losing the Castros, this guy and Hittin’ Harold.
Passive aggressive trolling..
Harold hasn’t been officially lost yet.
From a Tigers fan – good signing by the Twins. He’s versatile, athletic, and the hitting potential is there as 2020 suggests. Good coaching could turn him around. At the very least, a solid utility player.
Its not that they chose to cut Reyes, Willi, and Harold, all inexpensive, and able to play multiple positions. Its that they haven’t replaced the bench with better players. Bench players don’t put up the big war. If they did, they wouldn’t be bench players. They would be starters.
They could sign Mancini, Pham, & Profar. But, is that really enough to be considered in a playoff position? I expect them to get younger not older this off-season- via trades and seeing what’s in the system.
He still may blossom into a serviceable big leaguer.
For Love of the Game
One of the worst plays I ever saw was Willi in AAA. Bases loaded ground ball to him at short. He gave the term “booting the ball” real meaning. He kicked it 25 feet and an inning ending DP became two runs and more. Wishing Willi good luck in MN!
“He kicked it 25 feet”
Did it make it thru the uprights?
As others mentioned, Castro’s IF defense could be better, but he is serviceable in the OF. His slash line doesn’t look good, but he gives you the feeling that there is some untapped potential. I hope there is, but this is a very good minor-league signing for the Twins anyway.
Team Platoon. Non starters need to warm up in the 5th.
The Tigers were loaded with fringe major league players with limited skill sets. Willi is quite athletic, but is a role player at best. I saw a lot of him at Toledo. At this stage, I’d roll with someone like Kreidler, who is much better defensively. Seeing both of them a lot over the last couple of years, Kriedler looks to be a better player. But I’m just a professor who watches a lot of Toledo games, not a scout.
Hitting .345 with pop as a rookie and then Tigers decided to see if he could play all 9 positions in the field, plus their batting coaches were terrible. Hope he gets a real chance with the Twins, seems to be some real potential in Willi.
No joke. Seen one game. Passed the eye test. Inconsistencies keeps him from being better.
Was hoping that Detroit would resign him to a minor league contract, as I think he may still have some potential. Oh well.