Castillo Agrees to Minor League Deal
Luis Castillo has agreed to a Minor League contract with the Phillies, although it is not finalized, a source said tonight.
The Mets released Castillo on Friday and the Phillies immediately expressed interest. Castillo cleared waivers this afternoon.
The Minor League contract certainly suggests the Phillies are not prepared to just hand a Castillo a job. He will have to earn one, although there is not much time. Just 12 days remain before Opening Day.
If the Phillies had offered Castillo a Major League contract they would be on the hook for $414,000 of his $6 million salary, regardless of his ability to play. The Minor League deal guarantees Castillo even less money, which means if the Phillies feel Castillo cannot play they can let him go at little cost. Of course, if they decide he can help and place him on the 25-man roster they would have to pay him $414,000.
But repeat: If he cannot play the Phillies are on the hook for less than $414,000. How much less? I’m not sure, but it’s a low-risk, high-reward move the Phillies like to make. If he can play, bonus. If he can’t, buy-bye.
Castillo hit .286 with no extra-base hits in 28 at-bats this spring with the Mets. He committed one error and made other notable misplays in the field. Mets manager Terry Collins called Castillo into his office at one point for what he perceived as sullen behavior.
Conversely, the five infielders already in Phillies camp with a chance for playing time at second base have fared better:
- Wilson Valdez, who I believe remains the favorite to be the Opening Day second baseman, has hit .439 (18 for 41) with three doubles, one home run and six RBIs.
- Josh Barfield has hit .344 (11 for 32) with three doubles, one triple and three RBIs.
- Pete Orr has hit .333 (12 for 36) with three doubles, three triples and two RBIs.
- Michael Martinez has hit .292 (14 for 48) with three homers, two home runs and six RBIs.
- Delwyn Young, who is more of an outfielder than a second baseman, has hit .292 (14 for 48) with two doubles, one home run and three RBIs.
Castillo hit just .235 with a .337 on-base percentage and a .267 slugging percentage in 86 games last season with the Mets, although he hit .302 with a .387 on-base percentage in 2009. He has had trouble staying healthy because of knee problems and had fallen out of favor amongst Mets fans for memorably dropping a popup in a 2009 series against the New York Yankees, costing the Mets a victory.
Scouts who have seen Castillo play in the past year think he has lost speed and quickness, which essentially is his game.
The Phillies will get a chance to see if those views are accurate.
The Phillies still think Utley will be back this season — I’m guessing sometime in June (that’s just a guess) — so Castillo could be a short-term solution if he earns a job.
“You know what? He’s getting a little better,” Charlie Manuel said of Utley this afternoon. “It’s not coming real fast, but he’s showing — according to the doctors and trainers — he’s starting to get better. It seems like it’s going to take a while, though.”
And that is why they are bringing Castillo aboard.