Following the departure of starting catcher Austin Romine in free agency, the Detroit Tigers need to bolster their catcher corps. Jason Castro makes some sense as a left-handed veteran platoon option.
The Detroit Tigers have a large hole to fill at catcher on their major league roster. The unproven Jake Rogers, who the organization has shown absolutely zero confidence in, is slated to take over in 2021. The Tigers would be wise to find him a left-handed complement to help provide some stability. Though the catching market this summer is a bit of a scrap heap outside of all-star JT Realmuto, there are worse options than veteran Jason Castro.
Jason Castro, 33, did not have a great 2020. He had a decent showing with the Angels to start the year, before struggling after being flipped to the Padres prior to the trade deadline. Castro is a few years removed from being a regular contributor in MLB lineups, but he has some skills that can certainly help the Tigers as a backup veteran catcher.
First and foremost, Castro is a strong receiver behind the dish. According to Statcast, his framing ranked in the top 70th percentile among catchers in 2020. Though his defensive statistics have fluctuated some throughout his career, is regarded as a solid defender around the league. Pairing Castro’s strong receiving skills with Rogers, who remains a top-tier defensive catching prospect, would undoubtedly support the development of the Tigers many young pitchers.
At the plate, Castro provides steady, albeit below league-average, production. Aside from a blip in production in a small sample size in 2018, Castro has produced around a .680 OPS in each season since 2015. Even as he ages into his thirties, he can still hit the occasional home run, as evidenced by his 13 homers with the Twins in 2019.
Jason Castro is certainly not flashy, and he won’t turn the Tigers into a contender, but he could provide some stability behind the question mark that is Jake Rogers and help the Tigers catchers improve on their putrid -0.9 fWAR total from 2020. Signing Castro to a one-year deal, with the prospect of flipping him to a contender at the deadline, would be a wise and, likely more importantly for owner Chris Illitch, cheap investment.