Luis Castillo wants out of Queens

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Craig already roasted Jeff Francoeur in epic fashion earlier this week, so I’m not going to try to top that one. Still, the sickness appears to be contagious in the Mets’ locker room.

While Luis Castillo hasn’t requested a trade, he told Dan Martin of the New York Post that he is not willing to accept a backup role in Queens.

“I can’t be here anymore. I know I’m
not going to be here next year.”

“They want to go with young guys, I guess. That’s what they tell me now. I’m not ready to be a backup.”

Limited to just 62 games this season due to a foot injury, Castillo is batting .241/.335/.281 with zero homers and 15 RBI in 199 at-bats. Fed up with his poor production and lack of range, the Mets recently benched their high-priced second baseman in favor of Ruben Tejada. The 20-year-old is batting just .183 in 120 at-bats this season and is hitless in his last 23 at-bats dating back to July 16.

There’s an argument to be made that Castillo is actually the better player than Tejada right now, but that isn’t saying a whole lot, really. Since signing a four-year, $24 million contract after the 2007 season, Castillo is batting .273/.367/.320 with a 687 OPS. That wouldn’t be so bad if his speed was still an asset. Unfortunately, it just isn’t. Meanwhile, his defense has declined significantly since his last Gold Glove in 2005.

Castillo, 34, is still owed $6 million next season, so if Omar Minaya couldn’t find a taker after his bounceback 2009 campaign (on offense, anyway), it’s pretty hard to believe they’ll find him a home this new winter, either. Like the Oliver Perez disaster, Castillo is another situation where they either have to admit their mistake and release him or waste a roster spot. For now, they are going with the whole wasting the roster spot strategy.     

Orioles sign Alcides Escobar

Alcides Escobar
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The Orioles have inked shortstop Alcides Escobar to a minor league contract, MLB.com’s Joe Trezza reported Saturday. The deal comes with an invitation to spring training and will allow Escobar to earn $700,000 in the majors if he breaks camp with the team (via Jon Heyman of MLB Network). The team has yet to formally announce the agreement.

Escobar, 32, completed an eight-year run with the Royals in 2018. No longer the .280-average, 3.0-fWAR player of seasons past, he hit several career lows after batting .231/.279/.313 with four home runs, eight stolen bases (in 10 chances), and a .593 OPS through 531 plate appearances last year. His defensive ratings also took a hit, and FanGraphs pegged him as the fourth-worst shortstop in the majors after he accumulated -12 DRS over the course of the season, only slightly higher than the Orioles/Dodgers’ Manny Machado, Mets’ Amed Rosario, and Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts.

Still, Heyman holds that Escobar is being considered for the starting gig this spring and could yet prove an upgrade over top prospects and infield candidates Richie Martin and Drew Jackson. At the very least, the veteran shortstop figures to stabilize the position given Martin and Jackson’s relative inexperience, as both infielders played to varying results in Double-A Tulsa last year and have yet to break into the majors. Should either player earn consideration for the position in camp, however, Escobar might still work his way onto the Opening Day roster in a utility role as he saw some time at third base, second base, and center field in 2018.