clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2016 Cubs Spring Training Countdown: Day 5

What the heck happened here?

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

This year, Juan Perez, former Giants outfielder, will wear No. 5 for the Cubs during spring training. He's a non-roster guy who'll likely wind up at Iowa if he stays in the organization.

So I want to talk about Welington Castillo, who's the last Cub to wear No. 5 during the regular season.

Castillo was bumped down to third-string behind Miguel Montero and David Ross last year and it was clear, to me anyway, that his lack of playing time led to his hitting really suffering for the 24 games he played for the 2015 Cubs. He started just eight games and hit .163/.234/.349 (7-for-43, but with two home runs).

The Cubs sent him to the Mariners for the now-departed Yoervis Medina, who didn't provide much value for the Cubs. Seattle didn't get much from Welly either. He played in six games for them, starting five, and hit even worse -- .160/.179/.160 (4-for-25).

The Mariners traded him to the Diamondbacks as part of the deal that sent Mark Trumbo to Seattle. The rest of the guys in that deal, you've likely never heard of.

And Welly started hitting. He hit .255/.317/.496 with 13 doubles and 17 home runs -- in only 80 games and 274 at-bats! That's nearly a 35-homer pace for the season. If that .496 SLG had been for a full season, it would have ranked 12th in the National League -- just ahead of Kris Bryant.

Castillo did have a half-year in the minors kind of like this, in 2011, where he hit .287/.359/.516 with 16 homers in 274 at-bats. But he didn't show any signs of doing this with the big-league Cubs, which is likely why Theo & Co. went out to trade for Montero. Montero's pitch-framing skills were said to be better than Castillo's, and that seems to be another reason for the deal.

This did seem to work out for everyone. Castillo's become one of the better-hitting catchers in the major leagues. Montero hit well enough for the Cubs, was a team leader, and pitch-framed well, and the Cubs made the playoffs. With Kyle Schwarber possibly catching some, and Willson Contreras coming into prospect status, Castillo might have been pushed aside anyway.

Could the Cubs have gotten more for Castillo in trade than the nothing they have remaining to show for him now? It can be argued that they could have traded him to the D'backs during spring training last year, when Arizona was really looking for a catcher due to injury and poor performance, and didn't.

I wish Welly luck. He's certainly much better positioned to have a solid big-league career than he was a year ago at this time.