The Chicago Cubs have finally made the trade that they had been expected to make since they acquired Miguel Montero from the Arizona Diamondbacks over the winter, as they sent catcher Welington Castillo to the offensively-challenged Seattle Mariners in exchange for reliever Yoervis Medina.
It’s a trade that should benefit both sides, as Castillo does bring some upside at the plate, while playing decent (and still somewhat improving) defense behind it. Medina, while reporting to Triple-A initially for the Cubs, brings decent upside as a reliever, which fits a position of need for the Cubs, whose bullpen woes have held them back from having an even more impressive start to the year.
For the Mariners, there’s certainly some upside in Castillo to be had. His defense has never been great, but he’s done a decent enough job of framing this season, at 10.7 extra strikes and is an alright blocker behind the plate. But there’s a reason that the Cubs felt the need to bring in both Miguel Montero and David Ross during the winter, which lies primarily in that element. Where Castillo is strong is his ability to throw out runners (CS% of 33 last season).
His offensive numbers in the last couple of years aren’t anything resembling terrific, but he has some pop and does make some pretty decent contact. Typically good for about a 78% contact rate, he’s making hard contact about 39 percent of the time, which would be a career mark for him. The M’s already have a solid defensive backstop, in Mike Zunino, with Castillo now serving as his backup, though that still requires the Mariners to look for offense in other ways, because it probably isn’t going to come from behind the plate.
For the Cubs, this is the type of move that directly fits a need. While Yoervis Medina will start in Iowa, he has the potential stuff that could be quite valuable out of the bullpen. There are some concerns, of course, as Castillo wasn’t going to bring back dynamite value.
Medina’s velocity has dropped since last season. His four seam velocity dropped from over 95 last season, to just over 93 this season. Control issues are a glaring concern for the Cubs in getting Medina on track. He’s thrown his fastball for a ball almost 39 percent of the time in the last two seasons, with his curve missing the zone almost 45 percent of the time.
There’s some serious upside here, though, if he can harness his stuff and find the zone with regularity. He’s not too far removed from doing this:
He also gained some notoriety for doing this to Alexei Ramirez last season:
On paper, this is one of those deals that looks good for both sides. The Seattle Mariners needed some help behind the dish, while the Chicago Cubs were/are in serious need of help out of the ‘pen. Time will tell if either if these guys even makes a significant impact, but they’ll both be factors in what each of these teams hopes to achieve as the season wears on.
Randy Holt is the managing editor for Statliners. You can follow him on Twitter @RandallPnkFloyd.