2013 may have been a challenging year for the Houston Astros, though one bright spot was the emergence of Jason Castro as a potential star-in-the-making behind the plate. Despite that success in his first full season, reports suggest that the team could consider moving the 26 year old. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports notes that the team would need to first see the continued development of Max Stassi first and this is all assuming that the Astros and Castro are unable to reach an agreement on a contract extension.
Castro’s facing arbitration for the first time later this month, but he and the team have reportedly had some preliminary discussions about a long term deal that might buy out a year or two of free agency. There are no indications that a deal is close.
Castro batted .276/.350/.485 over 491 PA in 2013, adding 35 doubles and 18 HR while making his first All Star Game. Castro’s projected to earn around $2.2 Million this coming season and won’t be a free agent until following the 2016 season.
Stassi spent the bulk of the year at Double-A before making a brief debut with the Astros in late August. He’d hit .277/.333/.529 in 323 PA on the year before the callup, adding 20 doubles and 17 HR, but his calling card has long been his solid defense behind the plate. It’s conceivable that he’ll break camp with the team in a backup role to Castro if he’s able to have a strong spring, but the team might prefer that he head down to Triple-A initially just to keep him playing everyday. While Rosenthal cites Stassi’s potential as one reason behind why the team could move Castro, he does note that they could always just move Castro to first base if Stassi continues to develop as expected.
Houston has multiple young position players primed to stake their claim on a spot in the Astros lineup over the next season and a half and it won’t be surprising to see the organization attempt to lock up some of them to long term deals before they become too expensive. Castro could end up being the first of those building blocks to be locked in place if the two sides can find a common ground.