Seeing a trade, especially a significant one, is rare in May, but today the Cubs and Mariners agreed to a deal that does register as significant, with the Cubs moving a starting-caliber catcher who had to sit behind starter Miguel Montero.
The clubs announced the move of Cubs catcher Welington Castillo to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for a right-handed relief pitcher in Yoervis Medina.
The Mariners have been in search of a more productive catcher than their 24-year-old Mike Zunino, who is hitting just .179/.241/.358/.600 (70 OPS+) in 116 plate appearances thus far this year. While Castillo has not been absolutely stellar offensively this year, his pedigree definitely makes him an immediate upgrade over the struggling Zunino.
Castillo is a 28-year-old with just over three seasons of service time heading into 2015, making him an inexpensive option through his final three years of team control. He signed to a $2.1 million deal this season as a final pre-arbitration player.
In fact, Zunino's slash line this season is actually better than Castillo's, as the latter is hitting just .163/.234/.349/.583 in 47 plate appearances. However, Castillo has made just eight starts this season, so most of his plate appearances have been off the bench, where a player isn't likely to be in the game.
Castillo has a career .252/.320/.398/.717 line, so history suggests that as he transitions back to a starting role, his offense will improve. Defensively, Castillo has been very solid, totaling 25 defensive runs saved in his 2425.2 innings at catcher.
With a surplus of catchers on the roster, the Cubs needed to move Castillo, especially for a position of need.
That's exactly what they got in Yoervis Medina, a strong right-handed reliever that has only two seasons of big league service time. The 26-year-old Medina will be a welcome sight in a Cubs bullpen that has the eighth-highest ERA in baseball.
Over the course of his career, Medina is 10-9 with a 2.82 ERA (3.74 FIP) in 137 innings out of the Mariners bullpen. This season, the Venezuelan is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA (4.49 FIP) in 12 innings.
Medina was able to dial up the fastball last year, averaging 94.9 mph with his heater. However, it isn't quite the same this year, averaging 92.4 mph. It may be due to heat up as the weather heats up. Medina also offers a two-seamer/sinker and a knuckle-curve.