Willi Castro’s future with the Detroit Tigers appears in doubt

(Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
(Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Tigers recently optioned former top-ten prospect, Willi Castro, to Triple-A Toledo ahead of Opening Day.

Castro had been competing for a final roster spot with the Tigers but will be sent down to Toledo to work on his defensive skills at multiple positions. If and when he is recalled, he can bring much-needed versatility to manager A.J. Hinch’s bench.

The soon-to-be 25-year-old shortstop by trade slashed a respectful .296/.387/.556 throughout 14 Spring Training games.  Casto hit two doubles, a triple, and a home run, driving in two but struck out nine times in 31 plate appearances this spring.

Versatility is the name of the game these days, especially for players destined for a bench role.  It’s what can you do for me today, and how many different positions can we trust you to play?

Generally, Major League teams like to utilize a four-man bench throughout the year, although that may change for some clubs over the first month of the 2022 season as the league has permitted teams to use a 28-man roster due to the shortened Spring Training.

Willi Castro’s future with the Detroit Tigers appears to be in doubt.

Sometimes it is remarkable how quickly things change.  Just a couple of years ago, I traveled to Toledo to take in a Mud Hens game.  There were plenty of young, highly regarded prospects playing.  In addition to Jake Rogers, there was Willi Castro, who I recall being the most excited to see in person for the first time.

Needless to say, Casto threw not one but two ground balls into the first base stands, completely airmailing the first baseman, who I believe had been Jim Adduci on that particular day.  Both balls were considered to be routine plays from short.  I’ll never forget my wife looking over at me and saying, ‘this is one of Detroit’s top prospects?

There is a reason that we established that the primary position that needed to be addressed this offseason had been at shortstop and why general manager Al Avila went and got Javier Baez.  Castro just hasn’t grown into that everyday shortstop we once coveted.

Just two years ago, Castro looked the part offensively, hitting a stellar .349 slugging .550 in the COVID-19 shorted season.  During that 2020 season, over 36 games, Castro also belted six home runs and drove in 24.  He played so well that he finished fourth in American League Rookie of the Year voting.

Then the dreadful regression set in during the 2021 season.  Castro hit a mere .220, slugging .351 hitting nine home runs while driving in just 38 in 125 regular-season games.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Avila dangles Castro’s name around in trade talks.  Detroit should be vigorously looking to upgrade their starting rotation, and there is no reason why they are not in on the Frankie Montas sweepstakes.  Detroit could look to package Castro, Eric Haase, and a prospect to bolster their rotation.

Detroit should also consider signing free agent Trevor Rosenthal as a back of the bullpen arm after placing  Jose Cisnero on the 60-day Injured List (IL) with a shoulder strain.  The Detroit Tigers will also begin the year with newly acquired deliver Andrew Chafin and the ever so trustworthy Kyle Funkhouser each on the 10-day IL.

Haase will round out the Tigers bench to begin the season as the third catcher and occasional left fielder/designated hitter. Castro was overlooked in favor of Harold Castro, who will serve as the teams’ utility infielder that can also play in the outfield if needed.  Plus, Castro lost out to Victor Reyes and Dustin Garneau.

Next. Miguel Cabrera using 2022 to pass the torch. dark

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Detroit appears to be willing to carry a plethora of pitchers due to the depleted bullpen and backend of the rotation to begin the year, and for now, it’s Willi Castro who misses out.