The Arizona Diamondbacks are still looking for a catcher after trading Miguel Montero to the Cubs during the years Winter Meetings. Certainly, Tuffy Gosewisch has earned the right to start more often, and he will get the opportunity.
Defensively he has a strong arm, and he has gotten better at calling a game. He excels at controlling the run game, albeit a small sample size. Last season 11 steals were attempted against him, and he caught 8 base-runners good for a 72% CS%, which is way above average.
He has only played in 55 big league games, and is simply going to need to get more experience. The Dbacks did draft C Oscar Hernandez in the Rule 5 Draft, but he hasn’t played above Low A.
Its clear that the Dbacks did need to add a catcher at least until young Peter O’Brien is ready. My colleague Chris Jackson and I believe that Blue Jays catcher Dioner Navarro might be a good option, and Wellington Castillo might be a fit.
The Diamondbacks should also take a look at Astros catcher Jason Castro. He isn’t even in his prime yet, so when O’Brien arrives, Castro will be able to provide a veteran presence.
Castro bursted onto the scene during his rookie campaign in 2013. He finished with a slash line of .276/.350/.485 in 120 games. According to FanGraphs, he was the fourth most valuable catcher in all of baseball with a 4.3 WAR. He finished with a .361 wOBA, a 129 wRC+, and a OPS+ of 130 which is 30 points above league average.
Castro took a step back in his second season at the plate finishing with a slash line of .222/.286/.266 in 126 games. His step back can be attributed to several things. He finished with a career high K% at 29.5%, and a career low BB% of 6.6%, good for a horrid 0.23 BB/K ratio.
His high K rate is unacceptable when his ISO (Isolated Power) is under .200, and his IFBB% wasn’t special either. He struggled with fastballs up in the zone.
In 2013 when he was making contact, he had an above average ISO of .209, and a great line drive rate of 25.2%. That led to a great .351 BABIP. One thing that concerns me is that his O-Contact% has gone down each season.
He will have to get better offensively, but most catchers don’t perform at the plate like he does, and he is young. His power is also still there. He had 14 home runs last season, and his offensive game could take off at Chase Field.
When he is struggling at the plate, he makes up for it with his great defense and presence behind the plate, which would be huge for a young starting staff like the Dbacks. He does a great job commanding the pitching staff, and calling the game.
His biggest value on defense comes with his ability to frame pitches, and get his pitchers extra strikes. This is something that is becoming more valuable in today’s game, and now we have a way to quantify it.
Castro’s fWAR was 1.4 despite having a down offensive season. He had 14.5 defensive runs saved last season which is above the average. His oStr% or percentage of pitches out of zone called for strikes was 8.0 which is good, and his zBall% of 11.70 was also really good. Getting pitchers extra strikes is valuable, because then the pitcher is ahead in the count more.
He sometimes struggles to control the run game, but he has a strong arm and will get better. Look for him to rebound at the plate as well.
Castro should be an option for the Dbacks, and because of his defensive value, if I we’re Dave Stewart I would go after him.