Diamondbacks righty Miguel Castro signed a one-year deal that guaranteed him $3.25MM but also came with various incentives and a vesting option for the 2024 season. That $5MM salary was contingent on Castro reaching 60 appearances and passing an end-of-season physical, the former of which Castro quietly checked off late last month. The right-hander is now up to 65 appearances on the year, meaning that so long as he’s healthy for that end-of-year physical, he’ll be back in the fold for the D-backs next year at that $5MM price point. He’s also maxed out his appearance-based incentives for the 2023 season, adding an additional $900K to this year’s salary.
Already in his ninth Major League season despite not yet celebrating his 29th birthday, Castro was a solid member of the Arizona bullpen for the bulk of the year before a recent pair of nightmare outings sent his ERA north of 5.00. From Opening Day through Aug. 14, Castro logged a 3.86 ERA — albeit with worse-than-average strikeout, walk and ground-ball rates (20.9%, 10.2%, 41%, respectively). Castro was rocked for four earned runs in each of his next two appearances and tagged for three runs less than two weeks later; more than one-third of the runs he’s yielded this season came in a span of just 10 days.
It’s an awful stretch, but Castro’s season otherwise more or less lines up with the broader track record he put together from 2017-22: 350 innings, 3.93 ERA, 20.6% strikeout rate, 12.5% walk rate, 49.6% ground-ball rate. Both his ground-ball rate and average sinker velocity are down this season — he’s still averaging a hearty 96.8 mph on that two-seamer — but Castro is also walking batters at his lowest clip of any full big league season (9.8%).
Assuming Castro indeed passes his physical, he’ll return to a D-backs relief corps that’ll be fronted by deadline pickup Paul Sewald. Righty Kevin Ginkel and lefty Kyle Nelson have both cemented their places in the Arizona ’pen as well, and veteran Scott McGough is slated to return for the second season of his two-year deal. (Like Castro, McGough got out to a strong start but had his ERA blown up by a rough patch this summer.) Newcomer Ryan Thompson will also be looking to earn a role for the ’24 bullpen over the final few weeks of the current season.
If the D-backs want to go outside the organization to add to that group, there ought to be ample funds available to do so. Even after accounting for Castro’s $5MM salary next year, Arizona has just shy of $53MM on the books, per Roster Resource. That doesn’t include arbitration raises to notable names like Christian Walker, Zac Gallen, Sewald and Ginkel. Still, that bunch of raises will likely leave the Diamondbacks south of $90MM in guarantees, which is well shy of both this year’s $123MM payroll and their franchise-record $132MM payroll from the 2018 season.
As such, general manager Mike Hazen and his staff should have some money to work with this offseason — particularly with the organization’s regrettable commitment to Madison Bumgarner set to expire after the 2024 campaign. The D-backs owe Bumgarner $14MM for the 2024 season but are off the hook beginning in 2025. They have just $21MM on the books in 2025: a $5MM salary for Corbin Carroll and a $16MM salary for Ketel Marte.