With Opening Night less than two weeks away, the Chicago Cubs are heading towards a difficult decision at the catcher position.
With their incredible position versatility across the diamond, the Cubs may be able to pull off carrying three catchers to start the season. That being said, getting fair value in return for Castillo in a trade before the season has always been the preferred option.
While a deal this late in spring is not always easy to pull off, with final roster adjustments being made very soon, deals like this do happen. With Matt Wieters expected to start the season on the disabled list with an arm injury, the Orioles make perfect sense to take a shot on the upside of Castillo, who has performed very well offensively and defensively this spring.
Last week, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported: “The Orioles are open to trading left-handed reliever Brian Matusz, but his $3.2 million salary and remaining year of arbitration likely will give prospective suitors pause.”
The Cubs are always looking to take a chance on young pitching talent, and the 28-year-old Matusz could be a perfect reclamation project for the team.
Matusz was the fourth overall pick by the Orioles in the 2008 draft. He showed big upside as a left-handed pitcher, even being ranked as high as the fifth best prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America before the 2010 season.
Despite all of the upside, Matusz has never reached his potential as a starting pitcher, struggling after many big league starting opportunities.
The past two years, the Orioles have made Matusz a full-time pitcher out of the bullpen where he has had some success (3.53 ERA and 8.8 strikeouts per nine innings in 65 relief appearances in 2013 and 3.48 ERA and 9.2 K/9 in 63 relief appearances in 2014).
The Cubs have had a ton of success with another former Orioles pitcher in Jake Arrieta who has completely turned his career around in Chicago and is now a very important member of the Cubs’ pitching staff.
Could the Cubs do the same for Matusz? It really is impossible to say. But at 28-years-old, there is probably plenty of upside in Matusz’s arm.
The Cubs could work on Matusz becoming an effective starter again slowly in the minors. Obviously, there is a strong chance that it would not work out, but having him as an effective lefty reliever would not be a bad consultation prize.
Obviously, there is a lot of speculation in this scenario, but the Orioles have shown interest in Castillo, and the Cubs have shown interest in taking on pitching projects like Matusz in the very recent past, Arrieta, and Jacob Turner immediately come to mind.
Also, it is not like teams are busting down the door with top prospects to trade in exchange for Castillo. If the Cubs do not make a move with Castillo, they could be handcuffed with bench options at the start of the season.
A Castillo for Matusz swap is one that make sense for both sides, and could be a huge benefit to the Cubs down the line.