Yankees Sign Castillo As Backup Catcher For Backup Catchers
The Yankees are reported to have signed veteran catcher Wilkin Castillo to a minor league contract. Which means he is expected to serve as the backup to the backup catchers Yanks Go Yard reported on yesterday.
In a story that was featured yesterday on Yanks Go Yard, the battle for the Yankees backup catcher appeared to be narrowed down to Austin Romine and Kyle Higashioka, who was added to the team’s 40-man roster in November, a move that protected him from the Rule 5 Draft.
But now, with the addition of Wilkin Castillo to the mix, the Yankees appear to be hedging their bets a bit that either catcher has their full confidence.
Castillo, 32, spent all of 2016 with Buffalo, the Triple-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays. He has never held a full-time job as a major league catcher. And it is not clear if he is going to be invited to the team’s Spring Training camp in Tampa. In all, Castillo has 35 at-bats in the big leagues since he was signed by the Arizona Diamondbacks 14 years ago in 2002 as an amateur free agent.
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Castillo last appeared in a major league uniform in 2009 when he was with the Cincinnati Reds. In those 35 at-bats, he produced 11 hits, and six runs scored. While batting .314, he also added two RBI to coincide with his .333 on-base percentage.
As we reported yesterday, Higashioka is the up and comer, though he has no major league experience. His 21 home runs and 80 RBI have caught the attention of the team, and he is expected to give Austin Romine a run for the position as a backup for Gary Sanchez, the team’s runner-up to last year’s Rookie of the Year award.
It may still be Romine’s job to lose, but if he is going to keep it, his run production has to improve. Defensively, he has the edge, but with the team’s starting pitching suspect at best, the team will be accenting run production at every position and from every player.
To his credit, this is another one of those cases where Brian Cashman, the Yankees General Manager, is covering all the bases during the offseason to ensure that Manager Joe Girardi has the players he needs in what is expected to be a very competitive AL East Division race.
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Still to be decided is whether the Yankees will carry two or three men on their 25-man roster, and that decision, when it’s made, will obviously have an effect on all three players as to who stays and who goes once the list gets pared down before Opening Day.