The White Sox made their first significant move of the offseason Friday, signing veteran catcher Welington Castillo to a two-year, $15 million deal with a $8 million club option for 2020.
Castillo somewhat represents the type of relatively cheap veteran the White Sox were expected to target this offseason, but the deal is nonetheless surprising given the 30 year old’s solid 2017 season, as well as the dearth of quality catching options on the free agent market. While splitting time with Caleb Joseph in Baltimore, he posted career highs in both home runs and slugging percentage, while his FRAA of 7.4 was sixth best among the 22 catchers who saw as much or more playing time. He was also an above average pitch framer according to BP’s framing metrics. All in all, he was worth 2.8 WARP, which more than doubled his career best season.
An upgrade at catcher is logical even in a year where the White Sox aren’t expected to contend. Omar Narvaez and Kevan Smith both manned the position admirably in 2017 and received rave reviews on their game calling ability, despite shortcomings that make it obvious they’re both better served long term as backups. But whether it was Castillo or someone less heralded, catching depth was an area of need for the White Sox with nobody else looking near major league ready.
Castillo is a significant upgrade both offensively and behind the plate, helps the position from a depth perspective with either Narvaez or Smith destined for Triple-A, and helps bridge the gap between the present and when the White Sox believe Zack Collins will hopefully be ready to take over at the major league level. And while the likelihood that he maintains his success as he plays into his 30s is slim, he could be a potential trade chip down the road, as well.
In a second noteworthy move of the day, the White Sox also agreed to a 1-year, $1.05 million contract with Danny Farquhar, thus avoiding arbitration with the 30 year old right-hander who spent the latter portion of 2017 with the team.
Farquhar became available to the White Sox last season after a miserable first half in Tampa where his walk rate spiked to a career worst 5.7. But he’s only a year removed from being a reliable middle reliever and on a team starving for relievers after The Great Reliever Purge of 2017, is competent enough to prove a logical fit to eat up innings in 2018.
Lead Photo Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports