The Diamondbacks announced that they have acquired infielder Diego Castillo from the Pirates. Castillo had been designated for assignment by Pittsburgh earlier in the week. In exchange, the Pirates will receive minor league right-hander Scott Randall. The Diamondbacks designated right-hander Taylor Widener for assignment in a corresponding move.
Castillo, 25, was one of two players traded from the Yankees to the Pirates as part of the July 2021 trade that sent Clay Holmes to the Bronx. He was a contact-over-power guy for the beginnings of his professional career, striking out around 10% of the time in the lower levels of the minors but rarely putting the ball over the fence. 2021 seemed to be a breakout for him, as he hit 19 home runs between the systems of the Yankees and Pirates, finishing the year with a combined slash line of .278/.355/.487 and a wRC+ of 128.
He was selected to Pittsburgh’s 40-man roster in November of last year but couldn’t carry his positive developments forward. He got into 96 games at the big league level in 2022 and hit 11 home runs, but he also struck out in 26.5% of his plate appearances while walking just 4.9% of the time. He finished the season with a batting line of .206/.251/.382, production that was 27% below average, as evidenced by his 73 wRC+. He also got into 35 Triple-A games but the results were only marginally better.
Despite that disappointing season, the D-Backs are likely intrigued by his previous performance and defensive versatility. He’s played all four infield positions and a bit of right field, in addition to having a couple of option years remaining. The Arizona infield should have three spots taken by Christian Walker at first, Ketel Marte at second and Josh Rojas at third. Shortstop is a bit less certain, however, with Nick Ahmed the likely frontrunner at the moment. He’s never been an above-average bat but has long provided excellent defense. However, he’s been frequently injured, is turning 33 in March and is entering the last deal of his extension. Geraldo Perdomo is also on the roster but Castillo can give him some competition for playing time.
Randall, 24, was just drafted by the D-Backs last year and spent 2022 in High-A. He threw 108 1/3 innings over 21 starts with a 3.82 ERA, 23.4% strikeout rate, 5.6% walk rate and 37.3% ground ball rate. He’ll add some starting depth to the lower levels of the Pittsburgh system.
Widener, 28, was drafted by the Yankees but came to the Snakes in the three-team trade that sent Brandon Drury to the Bronx. He posted an ERA of 8.10 in 23 Triple-A starts in 2019 and has spent more time in relief since then. In 49 MLB appearances, 13 starts, over the past three major league seasons, he has a 4.26 ERA, 22.3% strikeout rate, 11% walk rate and 34.1% ground ball rate.
In 2022, he spent more time in Triple-A, throwing 36 2/3 innings for the Reno Aces. He posted an ERA of 5.40 in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, along with a 29.6% strikeout rate and 7.5% walk rate. The Diamondbacks will now have a week to trade him or pass him through waivers. Should any team acquire him, he can provide versatile depth due to his two remaining option years.
Justice delos Santos of MLB.com announced Arizona’s acquisition of Castillo prior to the official announcement.