Former Baltimore Orioles catcher Welington Castillo opted out of his contract. With two catchers waiting in the wings, what will the Orioles do?
The Orioles currently have two catchers on the 40-man roster: Caleb Joseph and Chance Sisco. Joseph split time with Castillo last season, seeing action in 89 games. During those 89 games, Joseph batted .256/.287/.413, hitting eight home runs and driving in 28 runs in 266 plate appearances.
At his height of playing time, in the wake of Matt Wieters returning from Tommy John surgery, Joseph caught a total of 826.1 innings in 2015. In 2017, Joseph caught much less with just 621.2 innings. Joseph, 31, will likely catch more innings than he did in 2017, but not nearly as much as he did in 2015. When he receives more time, he hits better.
In 2016, Joseph batted an abysmal .174/.216/.197, with no home runs or RBI in 141 plate appearances. In years prior, with more playing time, Joseph hit nine home runs and 11 home runs in 2014 and 2015 respectively. Joseph also offers very good pitch framing metrics.
Joseph and Sisco will likely be platooned, due to Joseph being a right-handed bat and Sisco being a left-handed bat. Joseph’s wOBA (.332) and wRC+ (105) against lefties in 2017 was much higher than what they are against righties (.287) and (75).
Sisco, 22, is expected to be the future at catcher for the Orioles. However, he could learn a thing or two from Joseph when it comes to the art of catching. During the time of his growth, it is expected that he will enter the season as the backup to Joseph.
One thing that Sisco has shown that he can do in a full-time capacity is hit. In five minor league seasons, Sisco slashed .311/.390/.426, drove in 206 runs and hit 25 home runs. In a small sample size in Baltimore (18 at-bats), Sisco batted .333/.455/.778, driving in four runs and hitting two home runs.
Once Sisco shows that he can gain a command of the position, look for him to attain a starting role with the Orioles.
(Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon)