Apparently Mets GM Sandy Alderson was serious when he put second baseman Luis Castillo and left-hander Oliver Perez on notice in mid-December, saying “if they don’t earn their way on the team, they won’t be on the team.”
Buster Olney of ESPN.com wrote today in his Sunday notes column that the Mets have tried to trade Castillo all winter long and are now internally discussing the possibility of releasing him because no suitors have come forward. Perez might also get the boot if he shows no signs of progress during spring training.
Castillo, 35, batted just .235 with a .337 on-base percentage and a putrid .267 slugging percentage in 299 plate appearances last season. He did not homer and he collected just 17 RBI.
The Mets owe him $6 million this season in the final chapter of a four-year, $25 million agreement that was signed in mid-November of 2007. They would obviously rather move at least part of that salary to another team via trade, but no major league club is going to be interested in adding an aging and unproductive middle infielder, however cheap. Cutting ties, eating his salary and then moving on may be the best course of action.
Free agent outfielder Michael Saunders has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Royals, the team announced Friday. While the move comes just two days after Saunders agreed to terms with the Pirates, he allegedly asked for his release after the club acquired outfielder Corey Dickerson in a multi-player swap with the Rays on Thursday. MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan adds that Saunders will make $1.5 million upon reaching the majors, with a potential $500,000 in bonuses.
After earning his first spot on an All-Star team in 2016, Saunders followed up a solid campaign with a career-worst performance in 2017. The 31-year-old split the season between the Phillies and Blue Jays’ camps, batting a combined .202/.256/.344 with six home runs and -0.7 fWAR in 234 plate appearances. Although he remained healthy throughout the year, with no sign of the lingering hamstring strain that has plagued him on and off since 2013, he wasn’t productive enough to merit a full-time role on either roster.
With Dickerson slated for a starting role in Pittsburgh, it was unlikely that Saunders would have commanded anything other than a backup role in 2018. Now, however, he’ll compete for playing time amid a slew of outfield options, including Alex Gordon, Cody Asche, Jorge Bonifacio, Tyler Collins and Paulo Orlando.