Chicago White Sox Sign Welington Castillo as Bridge to Future

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 10: Welington Castillo
CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 10: Welington Castillo /

The Chicago White Sox have landed a starting catcher in Welington Castillo. In signing him, they have also built a bridge to the future.

The Chicago White Sox are thoroughly in the midst of a rebuild. Over the past year, starting pitchers Chris Sale and Jose Quintana, outfielder Adam Eaton, and closer David Robertson, as well as a bevy of other players, have left the south side of Chicago. Power hitting first baseman Jose Abreu is potentially on the trade block. They would hardly be a team that would be expected to sign one of the top free agents at any position this offseason.

And yet, the White Sox have done just that in inking Welington Castillo. Ranked as the 20th best free agent hitter in our rankings, Castillo signed a two year contract worth $15 Million, not including an $8 Million option for 2020. He comes off a solid year for the Orioles, as his .282/.323/.490  batting line resulted in a career high 115 OPS+. Castillo also slugged 20 homers in only 365 plate appearances, showing excellent power in Baltimore.

In Castillo, the White Sox hope to have some stability at the catcher position. After letting Tyler Flowers go after the 2015 campaign, the White Sox have struggled behind the plate. Castillo, in theory, should be an upgrade over what they have had in past years.

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Castillo also serves an important function in the future of the White Sox. With his presence, the team can remain patient with Zack Collins, one of the top catching prospects in the game. Now, he can continue his development, instead of being forced through the system to help the major league squad.

Based off his production in 2017, it is clear that Collins is not close to ready. Although he threw out an impressive 39% of would be base stealers last season, and displayed improvement with his glove, the offensive side is not ready. In his 471 plate appearances across two levels, Collins had a .224/.370/.445 batting eye, hitting 19 homers and 20 doubles.

Despite those struggles, there were several positives. Collins power, considered his strongest asset, was plainly apparent. He also showed excellent patience, drawing 87 walks. It is also interesting that, as Collins had been considered a bat first catcher coming out of college, his defensive progression has been quicker as a professional.

Entering just his third professional season, it is likely that he will spend the year at the AA level, where he had 12 appearances late in the 2017 campaign. He would be given more time to work on his all around game, and could see a brief promotion to AAA at the end of the season. And if Collins is still not quite ready for the majors after the 2019 campaign, the White Sox have an affordable option on Castillo.

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The Chicago White Sox signing of Welington Castillo is a move that will help out now. However, the true impact of the move may not be felt until Zack Collins is ready for the majors.