Did the Cubs move a step closer to trading Welington Castillo with Friday’s agreement on a one-year, $2.1-million deal that avoided arbitration with the 27-year-old catcher?
Castillo, a gifted but underachieving player since becoming a full-time starter, has been on the trading block since the Cubs signed free agent veteran catchers Miguel Montero and David Ross last month.
The Cubs aren’t in dump mode with Castillo, and insiders suggest a deal could happen during spring training if it takes that long for the Cubs to get the level of return they want.
But by removing any salary uncertainty before he and the team exchanged arbitration figures could help the process in the short term.
The bigger problem now is finding enough motivation to deal among catcher-needy teams such as Texas – which reportedly could be close to re-signing ex-Cub Geovany Soto – and the Arizona Diamondbacks, who said in this week they’ve decided against upgrading the position from the outside.
Castillo was one of two arbitration-eligible players the Cubs reached agreement with Friday, the day players and clubs exchange figures.
Left fielder Chris Coghlan, one of the team’s surprise success stories after signing as a minor-league free agent last year, agreed to a one-year, $2.505 million deal.
The agreements left the Cubs with four unsigned arbitration-eligible players, with more deals expected to come during Cubs Convention, which opens at 6 p.m. Friday.
They also put the Cubs’ salary commitments for 16 signed players at roughly $85 million – $100 million counting the first-year portion of left-hander Jon Lester’s signing bonus.