When your big offseason signing for the year is a 31-year-old catcher, it’s pretty safe to bet one of two things are happening: your team is damn near perfectly built to contend and almost entirely lacking in weak spots, or you’re punting the year but need someone to catch around 100 games. With this being the 2018 Chicago White Sox, sadly the latter happened to be the case.
Castillo has always been a pretty decent hitter for a catcher (100 OPS+ for his career) and his bat would certainly bring some needed pop to an otherwise anemic White Sox lineup, but perhaps the main reason he was brought aboard was that he somehow at the age of 30 developed into a pretty good pitch framer for the Baltimore Orioles. And when one of your key goals for the season is to develop a young pitching staff you hope will be able to eventually lead your team to glory, someone who is at worst average behind the plate is pretty useful. Any offense is just icing on the cake at that point.
Things were going pretty smoothly over the first two months with Castillo hitting .267/.309/.466 with six home runs all before Memorial Day. With how weak the crop of catchers in the American League was this year, it’s not unreasonable to think Castillo might have found his way onto the All-Star team. If he hadn’t managed to catch an 80 game suspension for testing positive for erythropoietin in late May.
What had started as a fairly promising season turned into a very long unpaid vacation from June through August. Castillo looked understandably rusty when he returned on September 3, only managing a .571 OPS over his final 16 games and seeming to struggle tremendously to establish a rhythm and rapport with the pitching staff, especially Carlos Rodon. 2018 is definitely a season Castillo will want to put behind him, but with Omar Narvaez’s breakout season, only one year left on his deal, and the relentless dual marches of time and age it’s more than fair to wonder what 2019 will hold in store for him.
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