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Why are the Rockies so attached to Harold Castro?

Colorado Rockies news and links for Thursday, September 7th, 2023

As the Colorado Rockies trudge towards their seemingly inevitable first 100-loss season, the organization needed to make tough decisions. They were more active at the trade deadline than they had been in years, sending away veterans and expiring contracts like CJ Cron and Randal Grichuk for pitching prospects. The young guns like Hunter Goodman, Nolan Jones, and even Elehuris Montero are finally getting consistent playing time. While it took the Rockies far too long, they even parted ways with struggling veteran Jurickson Profar in August.

However, there is one move the organization has yet to pull the trigger on: releasing utilityman Harold Castro.

The Rockies signed Castro to a minor-league deal with an invite to spring training during the offseason after he was released by the Detroit Tigers following the 2022 season. Castro had the positional versatility the Rockies covet with appearances everywhere except catcher during his career. He was also a solid contact hitter with a .284/.309/.377 over five seasons with the Tigers.

Castro’s presence on both the 40-man roster and the Opening Day 26-man roster became a necessity after second baseman Brendan Rodgers went down with a shoulder injury early in the spring. The Rockies valued Castro’s ability to play up the middle (shortstop, second base, center field) as a utilityman, especially after Garrett Hampson was non-tendered during the offseason.

Unfortunately, Castro has vastly underperformed this season with the Rockies.

His .258 batting average, .273 on-base percentage, and .596 OPS are all career worsts. His wRC+ of 44 and OPS+ of 53 are two of the worst figures in the entire league, and, much like his former teammate Jurickson Profar, his measure by wins above replacement makes him one of the least-valuable players in MLB. Castro’s -1.4 fWAR is the third-worst mark for hitters with 200 or more plate appearances while his -1.4 rWAR has him tied for fourth-worst across all hitters this season.

Despite the moniker, “Hittin’ Harold” simply hasn’t contributed to the Rockies at the plate this season.

What about his much-vaunted positional versatility? Yes, he can play pretty much any defensive position and the Rockies have taken advantage of this skillset. Castro has logged time everywhere but first base and behind the dish this season. Castro hasn’t been much of a contributor with his glove either.

Harold Castro Positional Defense - 2023

Position G GS Innings Put-Outs Assists Errors Fielding Percentage DRS UZR
Position G GS Innings Put-Outs Assists Errors Fielding Percentage DRS UZR
2B 65 54 452.1 99 136 3 .979 -3 1.2
3B 1 1 9.0 1 2 0 1.000 0 0.1
SS 4 1 14.0 2 7 0 1.000 0 0.0
LF 4 3 27.0 6 0 0 1.000 -1 -0.2
CF 11 4 47.0 10 0 0 1.000 -1 -1.0
RF 3 2 18.2 5 0 0 1.000 0 1.4

Very much a “Jack of All Trades, Master of None” when it comes to his glove work, Castro has provided adequate but not amazing defense for the Rockies. Most of his work has come at second base with the absence of Brendan Rodgers, where he posted a positive UZR but -3 defensive runs saved. He has a positive UZR and a 0 DRS at third base, shortstop, and right field, but the caveat there is that he has seldom played at any of those positions.

For a utilityman, Castro’s glove work was acceptable, especially early in the season. However, Castro has been rendered irrelevant defensively due to players returning from injury or rookies rising to the occasion. The Gold Glove-winning Brendan Rodgers has returned to second base while Brenton Doyle’s spectacular defense has become a mainstay in center field. Corner outfield is mostly locked down by Charlie Blackmon and a tandem of rookies, and shortstop was never really an option with Ezequiel Tovar operating as the daily driver there.

The Rockies weren’t expected to deal Castro at the trade deadline. There just wasn’t enough value there for other teams to be interested. The problem is that he is still getting somewhat regular playing time. Castro has appeared in 14 games since the August 1st deadline and started in eight. During that time, he is hitting just .200/.200/.233 in 30 at-bats without drawing a single walk. He’s also appeared as a pinch hitter—usually in place of a rookie like Brenton Doyle—five times. In those five at-bats, he is hitless with two strikeouts. Not only is he taking away learning experiences from the rookies, but he’s not contributing when he does.

On Tuesday the Rockies optioned Michael Toglia and selected the contract of Cole Tucker. To make room on the 40-man roster for Tucker, the Rockies designated rookie middle infielder Coco Montes for assignment. The Rockies chose to keep an underperforming veteran utilityman and exposed a 26-year-old rookie with strong Triple-A numbers to waivers.

The Rockies being so attached to Castro is made even more confusing by the fact that he will be arbitration eligible this coming off-season. If they choose to non-tender him, the Rockies spent over 200 plate appearances, a roster spot, and potentially other players just to complete one -1.4 WAR season. If they tender him to a contract, they’re keeping a -1.4 WAR player on the roster next year for potentially $2 million or more.

While they haven’t always been quick to do so, the Rockies front office has done better this year at making tough decisions and more importantly the right decisions when it comes to their roster... So why are they so attached to Harold Castro?

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Colorado Rockies not so magical number, road to 100 losses | Rox Pile

With the Rockies losing yet another series to an NL West opponent, the road to 100 losses marches ever onward. Thomas Murray at Rox Pile discusses what remains for the Rockies to be eliminated completely from contention and reach the century mark for the first time in franchise history.

How Jones has become one of the NL’s best rookies |

The one silver lining in another series loss is that rookie outfielder Nolan Jones continues to be one of the Rockies’ biggest head-turners. Jones drove in two runs in Wednesday’s loss to the Diamondbacks with a gorgeously struck triple. His .877 OPS is the second best of all NL rookies behind the Diamondbacks’ Corbin Carroll.

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On the Farm

Triple-A: Reno Aces 7, Albuquerque Isotopes 5

Despite outhitting the Aces—who also had three errors—the Isotopes fell to the Reno Aces in a blow to their playoff push. Michael Toglia and Hunter Stovall both had doubles in two hit evenings while Julio Carreras went 2-for-4 with an RBI in his Triple-A debut. Noah Davis walked six batters in 4 13 innings while giving up four earned runs on three hits. He did strike out four batters but struggled with command. PJ Poulin gave up three more runs to the Aces on three walks and just one hit, which was a home run.

Double-A: Binghamton Rumble Ponies 9, Hartford Yard Goats 2

It was a tough day for Yard Goats starter Mike Ruff, who lasted just three innings while giving up seven earned runs on two walks and seven hits, including two home runs. Finn Del Bonta-Smith and Alec Barger each gave up an additional run in their own two innings of work. Angel Chivilli made his Double-A debut with two scoreless innings in which he struck out one batter while allowing two hits. Yanquiel Fernandez went 2-for-4 with a double and a solo home run while Warming Bernabel had two singles.

High-A: Spokane Indians 4, Hillsboro Hops 2

In his second start since returning from the IL, Blake Adams worked four scoreless innings in which he gave up two hits, walked one batter, and had two strikeouts. Keegan James gave up both of the Hops’ two runs during on three hits over 2 13 innings. The Indians made their major offensive push with a three run fifth inning where Braiden Ward hit a two run double and Ronaiker Palma had an RBI single. Palma had a solo home run later in the game.

Low-A: Modesto Nuts 7, Fresno Grizzlies 5

EJ Andrews Jr. was the Grizzlies’ primary contributor on offense, going 3-for-4 with 2 RsBI and a home run. Skyler Messinger contributed with a two-run home run as his only hit of the night. The Grizzlies had a costly four defensive errors on the night, which heavily contributed to the loss. Starting pitcher Michael Prosecky gave up four runs, but only two were earned. In 4 23 innings he struck out two batters and allowed five hits with no walks. Cade Denton struggled in 1 23 innings, giving up three earned runs on four hits, though he did strike out two batters. Zach Agnos pitched a scoreless ninth inning with two strikeouts.

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