by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Yesterday the Seattle Mariners and Chicago Cubs matched up on a trade, with C Welington Castillo heading to Seattle in exchange for RHP Yoervis Medina. For the Cubs it was a fairly straight forward move, having been carrying three catchers on the roster and trying to find playing time for all of them. For Seattle the deal is a little bit more intriguing.
Heading into yesterday Mariner catchers had posted the following unimpressive marks:
- Average – .165 (fourth worst in the league)
- On Base Percentage – .221 (third worst in the league)
- Slugging Percentage – .322 (tenth worst in the league)
Mike Zunino had been getting the lion’s share of the AB (106) hitting .179 with 5 HR. So the question now is if he has officially lost his job?
Castillo was struggling in Chicago, hitting .163 with 2 HR, though it was a small sample size. He never should be expected to hit for a good average though (.252 or his career). He also doesn’t offer a ton of power potential, with 29 career home runs over 1,006 AB (13 in 380 AB last season).
Is that enough to supplant Zunino behind the plate? It actually could be, though that speaks volumes about Zunino and the underlying metrics.
He owns a 37.9% strikeout rate this season (32.0% for his career), and before we point towards a .241 BABIP as reason for optimism think again. He owns a 50.8% fly ball rate (49.5% last season) and doesn’t have any speed. How can you expect him to carry an elevated BABIP with those types of numbers?
While Castillo may not offer much for fantasy owners, those depending on Zunino (AL-only/two-catcher formats) certainly want to be paying attention. At the very least his AB are going to decrease and it’s not unthinkable that he falls into a backup role. In other words begin looking for a replacement now before the inevitable becomes reality.