Welington Castillo Possible Matt Wieters Replacement in Baltimore

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Negotiations between the Baltimore Orioles and catcher Matt Wieters seem to have stalled. In fact, Wieters hasn’t gotten much love at all this offseason as he remains a free agent. Even Wilson Ramos, who will miss half of 2017, got a deal with the Tampa Bay Rays already. Wieters may lose one option soon as the Orioles are now targeting Welington Castillo.

Among the non-tendered players this winter, Castillo was one of the more intriguing pieces that changed the free agent market. His presence directly hurt Wieters as he is coming off a rather productive season with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Castillo won’t play in an All-Star Game or receive any MVP consideration. However, as a guy who averages 19 home runs per 162 games over his career and established himself as a productive offensive backstop over the last three seasons, I do not think the Orioles are crazy to favor him over Wieters.

Welington Castillo looks like the favorite to replace Matt Wieters as the Baltimore Orioles catcher next season.
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During Castillo’s brief time with the Diamondbacks he smacked 31 home runs in 193 games while also driving in 118. This was over the span of two seasons. Not amazing numbers, he did slash .261/.320/.462. Considering he’s a catcher, Castillo deserves a thumb up.

For the Orioles, along with the production, they’ll easily get Castillo for a fraction of what Wieters would demand. Castillo will likely be forced into settling for a one or two year deal tops while Wieters’ aim is likely at three years or more. Unfortunately, he’ll have a tough time finding it with how few teams are seeking a new catcher. If the Orioles do move on from him officially, he’s a little S.O.L.

If I had to guess, Castillo ends up with the Orioles. They need that change of pace and Wieters is clearly on the decline while Castillo is having some of his best seasons in recent years. Rather than define insanity, now is the opportunity for the Orioles to try something new.

Tampa Bay Rays Signing Wilson Ramos May End Chris Archer Trade Possibility

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When the Tampa Bay Rays signed Wilson Ramos today it was more than adding a premium catcher. Since he won’t be ready to return until around midseason, this transaction could very well mean the possibility of the Rays trading someone like Chris Archer is over with. The Rays wouldn’t add a catcher one day on a two-year deal only to go ahead and trade their starting rotation soon after. Logically, it doesn’t make sense.

The Wilson Ramos signing could mean the Tampa Bay Rays keep the roster mostly intact.
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Archer appears to be the most desirable pitcher on the Rays and with good reason. Two years ago, he was a Cy Young Award candidate. Last year, after a bad start, he did fix many of his issues and had a productive year despite all the losing. I don’t think his trade value was hurt very much at all as he still did manage to strike out a ton of batters and pull together what would’ve been an otherwise horrendous season.

Others on the Rays who have been among the trade candidates such as Jake Odorizzi are also probably staying put unless Tampa Bay is wowed in a deal. This is definitely possible as pitching remains a premium.

In the meantime, trade rumors for the Rays will probably dwindle slightly. I can’t see Ramos’ presence as a precursor to the Rays selling heavily this offseason. However, if they can get near MLB-ready talent, the Rays could set themselves up for a successful 2018 campaign. This is probably the true goal they have in mind so unless anyone is departing after 2017, look for them to remain in Tampa Bay for a little while longer.

Jose Bautista Might Be Better Fit for Orioles Than Mark Trumbo

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

After smashing his way to a home run title in 2016, slugger Mark Trumbo has received very little interest in free agency this winter. His defensive limitations, along with a mediocre at best OBP, have haunted him. His career .303 OBP is rather pathetic. Last year’s .316 OBP was one point lower than his career best .317 from 2012.

Meanwhile, Jose Bautista has also discovered that the world does not revolve around him. He too has not gotten many serious offers in free agency. Most likely, Bautista settles in free agency.

As of right now, it looks like the Baltimore Orioles are the favorites to re-sign Trumbo. However, Bautista might be the better fit.

Should the Baltimore Orioles sign Jose Bautista instead of Mark Trumbo?
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

I don't see the Toronto Blue Jays bringing back Bautista. The direction they're headed in is valuing depth over superstardom. The Orioles, though, have yet to really establish where they stand. I could see them seriously consider Bautista over Trumbo as it's a possible shorter commitment and an offering of something more beneficial.

Although Bautista seems to have lost his ability to put up a good batting average, he still draws his walks. Last season he finished the year with 87 compared to 103 strikeouts. Trumbo, meanwhile, continued his poor plate discipline and even struck out 170 times.

Specifically, with the Orioles, I'd like to see them sign guys who reach base. They are not a quick team so every base runner they get counts. Adam Jones is a fine example of a great player who lacks an important characteristic. The star outfielder rarely walks and the same is true for teammates Jonathan Schoop and J.J. Hardy. A really good OBP guy like Bautista would be a great addition to the Orioles especially if a power hitting right fielder/first baseman/DH is what they seek.

The only benefit of Trumbo over Bautista might be age. This can, however, help the Orioles to an extent as Bautista may accept a shorter deal. Not a guarantee, less years of Bautista sounds better than more of Trumbo. Bautista has, after all, had a much more stable career with Trumbo truly underperforming regularly throughout his career. Had he not hit 47 home runs last year it wouldn’t be a question who they should go with. Because of the way the year went the Orioles will have to choose between some familiarity and an ex-enemy.