As reported earlier today by Michael McDermott, the Diamondbacks signed Miguel Castro to a one-year contract with an option for 2024.
They also claimed catcher Ali Sánchez off waivers and Sean Poppen, was claimed off waivers by the San Diego Padres. The 40-man roster is now at 40.
Diamondbacks General Manager Mike Hazen addressed the media today to discuss today's roster moves, primarily the signing of the right handed reliever Castro. The 28 year old fireballer has impressive stuff but battles walks at times. Hazen made clear that this signing is in keeping with his oft-stated goal to add power arms to the bullpen, as well as change in philosophy when it comes to the type of pitcher they are after and how they'll develop them.
"He fits the profile of what we've talked about all off season. Power stuff. He has the ability to miss bats, put the ball on the ground. He has what we would consider an above average secondary pitch, [slider], possibly two. He has a lot of velocity [98 MPH sinker]. There are things we are still going to continue work with him on."
Hazen emphasized the need for Castro to continue to improve command and throw strikes but they expect him to fit into a leverage area of the bullpen. Quite encouraging for the D-backs was the fact that based on conversations they had Castro's decision making was impacted at least in part by the opportunity to work with pitching coach Brent Strom.
"We're hopefully an attractive destination because of the infrastructure we have in place...I don't think players are blind to what Strom and others have been able to do. I think the seeing the progression of our younger pitchers this year, for a guy...you know it's a one-year deal. I know there are some options on it. But if you are looking for a one-year deal and looking to go out and dominate for a year I think the environment you're walking into matters."
Hazen clarified that he did not believe this was the deciding factor for Castro, and he didn't think players would turn down more money just to work with Strom. But all things being equal it's clearly an advantage in trying to attract players.
They won't be asking Castro to cut back on his prolific use of his wipeout slider however. "We still want him to use his secondary stuff pretty aggressively. The slider to righties is an elite pitch. Maybe he'll be using a slider to lefties a little bit more. Finding better uses for his fastball, that's where a lot of the damage seems to be coming."
That's absolutely true. Here are his batting against numbers by pitch last year.
Hazen also made it very clear this is not their final move to rebuild the bullpen. "Whether it comes via free agency or trade, we are still very much looking to add" Hazen said
The Diamondbacks are going through a philosophical change in approach in going after guys like Castro, or Carlos Vargas, who they traded for a couple of weeks ago. "Taking risks on guys that have the stuff that we can mold into consistency is more of a model that we are at least exploring. Which will require us to make some changes and adjustments to players, which is risky. Asking a player to make an adjustment at the major league level is not something that you take lightly."
"It's hard to take guys who throw 92-93 and ask him to overpower hitters with our pitching infrastructure. I think we have a better chance of doing the converse of that and that's what we're looking at here."
Adding a Catcher
Keeping in line with Hazen's earlier comments about looking to add defense at the catcher position, he talked about picking up Sánchez as well: "He's got good catching ability. When we made the Hummel trade a couple weeks ago we lacked a little bit in this area. It was a way for us to get a guy we think adds some stability to that position for us."
The team provided the following notes on Sánchez
- Began the 2022 season with Triple-A Memphis, hitting .255 (28-for-110) with 5 doubles, 4 home runs and 12 RBI in 30 games before being designated for assignment on June 15.
- Claimed off waivers by the Tigers on June 18 and batted .268 (38-for-142) with 9 doubles, 2 homers and 21 RBI in 44 games with Triple-A Toledo.
- Claimed off waivers by the Pirates on Oct. 18.
- Appeared in 7 Major League games between Mets (2020) and Cardinals (2021)