Detroit Tigers IF/OF Willi Castro
An infielder/outfielder that’s a switch-hitter with some pop sounds tantalizing, which is exactly what Willi Castro is. Unfortunately, his defensive struggles coupled with inconsistencies with quality of contact have his future outlook a far cry from that impressive .349/.381/.550 performance in the shortened 2020 rookie campaign.
Feels like a decade ago that Castro was the starting shortstop on Opening Day, but those days are likely over with his current .211/.268/.347 line and 18th percentile Outs Above Average metric. Nevertheless, the organization is giving him a shot at a utility spot, with seven games in left field after zero professional games in the outfield.
The Case for the Detroit Tigers Keeping Willi Castro
Like Harold, Willi is under contract through the 2026 season and would be a less expensive option than some of the more seasoned free agent options on the open market. Willi though does have an option year left in 2022, and that type of roster flexibility may be valuable to the organization, even if it doesn’t mean Castro would break camp with the MLB club next season.
An offseason of work in the outfield could do Castro some good as well as he prepares to battle for a spot. His limited numbers aren’t pretty in the grass, but his impressive sprint speed and fine athleticism suggest some improvement is possible with continued professional instruction. The question becomes whether or not his offensive output will justify a defensive spot where so many sluggers call home in the corner outfield.
The Case for the Detroit Tigers Letting Willi Castro Go
Since the Detroit Tigers can keep Castro in the minors next year, sending Willi Castro off doesn’t make a ton of sense. At the same time, his spot on the active roster in 2022 could conceivably be an uphill climb depending on the offseason moves.
Unfortunately, Castro doesn’t barrel the ball nearly consistently enough (5th percentile in barrel percentage) and his defense is already mentioned as some of the worst in the league as well. That combination usually isn’t a recipe for any roster spot, let alone a utility player. Bench players often have a calling card–maybe they can handle the bat but not play defense or vice versa. In Castro’s case, he hasn’t shown he has much to hang his hat on, which could mean his time on the MLB roster is running out.