Neal Huntington: jerkin' his players around

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Twice last week Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington said that he would tender closer Matt Capps, and all other arb-eligible players a contract: “At this point, our plan is to tender all eligible players,” he said on Monday. He repeated the phrase almost verbatim on Wednesday.  

Last night: no contract tendered to Matt Capps.

As Aaron mentioned last night, this is a pretty cheap move by the Pirates. Capps took a step back last year, but he’s a solid pitcher who could easily rebound, and his arbitration number would not have been bank-breaking. He’s going to make someone’s bullpen better next season, and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t have been Pittsburgh’s.

But more than cheap, this is just petty. It’s easy for us to think of players as mere names on a spreadsheet, but you can bet that Matt Capps was wondering about his future these past few weeks and took some comfort in hearing his boss say that he was going to be offered a contract. If Huntington wasn’t planning to offer him one, he shouldn’t have jerked him around by saying he would — twice — last week.

This is the sort of thing the players notice. At the very least you can bet Capps’ suddenly former teammates noticed, and will be increasingly loathe to trust Pirates’ management going forward.

Report: Welington Castillo to be suspended 80 games for violating Joint Drug Agreement

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic confirms a report from journalist Américo Celado that White Sox catcher Welington Castillo will be suspended 80 games for violating baseball’s Joint Drug Agreement. Castillo was believed to have used a steroid, but according to Rosenthal, the substance was not a steroid. More details should come on Thursday.

Castillo, 31, entered Wednesday’s action batting .270/.314/.477 with six home runs and 15 RBI in 118 plate appearances. He has gotten the bulk of the work behind the plate, backed up by Omar Narváez.

Castillo’s absence will likely prompt the White Sox to call up Kevan Smith from Triple-A Charlotte. Smith battled an ankle injury in March and April, so he got a late start to the season. In 102 PA at Triple-A, he has hit .283/.343/.457.