Pirates Prospects Daily: Plenty Of Moving Parts In The Diego Castillo DFA

It’s still December, so we are quite a ways away from any final roster decisions that need to be made. As the offseason continues to unfold, and the Pirates make more moves, some of the puzzle pieces are starting to fall in place.

To make room for free agent catcher Austin Hedges, the Pirates designated Diego Castillo for assignment.

Castillo was acquired in the Clay Holmes trade with the New York Yankees, along with Hoy Park. The Pirates DFAd Park earlier in the offseason, before he moved to the Boston Red Sox.

After making the major league team out of spring, Castillo ended up hitting 11 home runs with the Pirates last year, mostly against lefties, and at times really didn’t do much more than that.

– With Rodolfo Castro and Oneil Cruz at the top of the depth chart in the middle infield at the major league level, and the offseason additions of Connor Joe and Ryan Vilade, this move probably shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise.

Not to mention, with Liover Peguero and Nick Gonzales potentially starting the year in Indianapolis, there really wasn’t a place for Castillo anymore. 

– Castillo wasn’t great with the glove, as he had negative defensive runs saved at every position except shortstop (zero), but it does open up a spot directly behind Cruz as the primary backup.

Castro played some shortstop last year, but it didn’t go well. Ji-Hwan Bae has some experience at the position, but you probably don’t want your backup to be left-handed like Cruz.

Jared Triolo has been one of the best defensive players in the minors the last two seasons, and was added to the 40-man roster this past season. He will be 25-years-old by the time the season starts, but has just 41-games in the minors at shortstop.

Peguero isn’t going to start the year in the majors in a backup role, so it might not be the most surprising thing to see them go and add someone else, if only as some sort of place holder for someone in the minors.

– Castillo may stick around in the system, even after the DFA, so this doesn’t officially close the books on the Holmes trade, but with this, it’s really hanging on by a thread. Even with Holmes’ success, there really isn’t a way to tell if he would have turned things around if the Pirates hadn’t made the trade.

He did, and now both players the Pirates got in return have been DFA.

It was a strange transformation for Castillo, especially once he got to the majors. He wasn’t much of a power hitter throughout his minor league season, until 2021, when the Pirates acquired him. He was always heralded for his approach at the plate, but completely sold out for power when he made it to the majors. Even when he was sent back to Indianapolis, he couldn’t really find things again.

– This does leave nine outfielders on the 40-man roster (10 if you count Bae’s potential there), and while that can change still as they still have to add Jarlin Garcia. Castillo being removed does speak to what they thought his role was going to be.

It always isn’t as simple as player A vs player B when it comes to who to DFA, you have to look at it as a whole roster, and organization.

Castillo’s future wasn’t going to be in the infield, and when it comes to the right-handed outfielders, there were more that they liked, or at least wanted to see come Spring Training.

The Pirates walk away from this with a little added depth when it comes to right-handed outfielders.

Highlight of the Day

Pirates Prospects Daily

By Tim Williams

**The Pirates made the Austin Hedges signing official, and designated Diego Castillo for assignment.

**I wrote about how the Pirates are slowly stabilizing their roster this offseason.

**Osvaldo Bido saw an increase in his strikeouts over the last two seasons. Anthony Murphy and John Dreker break down what’s been happening with the right-hander.

**John Dreker broke down the winter league seasons of Rodolfo Castro and Miguel Andujar.

**Missed yesterday? Anthony looked at Ke’Bryan Hayes and how to maximize his hard contact.

Song of the Day

Pirates Prospects Weekly

The moves made so far haven’t been huge, but I broke down why I see this team already headed for 72+ wins, with a chance to improve more with more additions. Check out where they are now:

The Pirates Are Slowly Stabilizing Their Roster

I really liked this combined article on Bido by Anthony and John. Anthony brought a great breakdown of what Bido does, and John added the background. Considering the depth in the organization, Bido is probably a deep sleeper at best for the 2023 season. He could arrive with a hot stretch in Indianapolis when the Pirates need someone later in the summer. This isn’t the most impactful prospect we can cover, but Bido is a prospect who can make the majors, and we cover all of those players.

Osvaldo Bido Has Seen A Strikeout Increase Since The Canceled 2020 Season

Anthony began writing over 10 years ago, starting a personal blog to cover the 2011 MLB draft, where the Pirates selected first overall. After bouncing around many websites covering hockey, he refocused his attention to baseball, his first love when it comes to sports. He eventually found himself here at Pirates Prospects in late 2021, where he covers the team’s four full season minor league affiliates.

Support Pirates Prospects

Related articles

join the discussion

Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Keep in mind that the Pirates have one week to trade or release him. Maybe he is part of a planned trade in the works?


So, uh, can we talk about what Diego Castillo means to the Pirate’s developmental strategy?

Unquestionably a late-bloomer, Castillo was an analytic darling with average or better exit velocities and one of the best contact rates in minor league baseball. Name a Pirate prospect known for contact and Diego’s 6% swinging strike rate in AA smokes every one of them.

With barely any AAA experience under his belt, he was added to the opening day roster on the heels of a spring training heater and promptly got his teeth kicked in by big league pitchers. Completely changed who he was as a hitter, lost all semblance of plate discipline, and never was able to recover even when demoted and promoted again. 8 months later, he’s DFA’d.

Was Diego Castillo always doomed to run into the buzzsaw of advanced pitching? Would the overwhelmingly-proven manner of development in which a player is given time to master a level before promotion have exposed his flaws in AAA before failing in the show?


But one thing is for certain, “playing the kids” sure as shit did him no favors.

I know I’m just a reactionary 30-yr fan, but for anyone to believe the platitudes being thrown about we actually have to see some amount of improvement to skill and preparation when a kid reaches the show.

Well, we’re waiting.

Scam likely

Also he had no glove no range, no speed and not much of a arm. But he did hit the ball hard when he hit it. But there are several dfa’s ahead of him on the forty.


Guy who thought Castillo was the best player in the Holmes trade.

Take the L, NMR.


There was reason to be excited. Which is probably the same set of reasons to feel disappointed now.


One would think a defensive minded backup MI would be in order for team, but BC doesn’t exactly look at roster construction in a seemingly logical manner.


Really? Balancing this year’s roster, next year’s, and player development is really complex. I thought this article did a nice overview of summarizing this.


We had a MI as the Opening Day RF last year and the majority of games at 1B were played by another MI last season. Currently there are 9 OF and only 1 Catcher on the 40 man roster.

Until he shows me he can put together a roster with players to play the positions they were developed to play, I stand by my comment.


Bae (and Mitchell) both tore up AAA. They have nothing left to prove there… unless Bae does the Super two dance. Castro could ping pong back and forth from ML to AAA he’s a decent placeholder until a Liover or NickG or Temarr claim 2B.

FWIW- Nick G might be our future 1B.


We won’t be moving Nicky G to 1b. Real MLB teams don’t have short (5’10) first baseman, espec with Cruz throwing missiles off target.


I know it’s a highlight reel, but am I wrong that young Termarr seems to hit the ball pretty hard?

“Excuse me, sir, is this the way to the Coachella Valley and the annual Carrot Festival therein?”



Kid’s gonna be a PROBLEM. Dang.


It’s plainly evident to me that he can rake.


Love those Termarr highlights!


No outside help need apply for the back-up SS position – Castro and Bae both played SS at AAA in 2022

Castro – 231 innings, 113 Chances, 973 Fldg %age
Bae – 177 innings, 82 Chances, 976 Fldg %age

Hayes, Cruz, Castro/Bae, Santana/Choi. Castro and Bae can share 2B and both are VG Utility players..


i think we need to go a little deeper than fielding percentage.

notice how castro has .49 chances per inning vs Bae’s .7 chances per inning?

im sure some of that is just random variance but some of that is also that Rodolfo castro almost certainly has terrible range and doesnt get to balls in order to count them as chances.

i can’t imagine any serious prospect evaluator would think that Castro actually has the chops to play short. That said, in this terrible year, who cares, as long as hes willing to do it?

And with THAT said, i’m sure Bae would do fine. The only question is… is bae too integral to filling in at other positions?


And Bae doesn’t have the arm to play SS. This is a big hole (in roster) cause Cruz isn’t going to be playing 155 games.


Pirates sign Tyler Chatwood, per Robert Murray. Minor lg deal.

fine by me. he can probably strike ppl out.


He can also walk a lot of ppl.


The sooner we realize that they just like vilade and think there’s a lil pop there, the easier this offseason will be

And for ss yeah I now anticipate a milb signing with an opt out date, promised a spot.

I’ve always wanted to watch andrelton simmons


Maybe he can teach some defensive awesomeness as a player/ coach throughout the spring.


be still my heart

Share article

Pirates Prospects Daily

Latest articles

Pirates Prospects Weekly

MONDAY: First Pitch

TUESDAY: Article Drop


THURSDAY: Roundtable

FRIDAY: Discussion

SATURDAY: Pirates Winter Report

SUNDAY: Pirates Business

Latest comments

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x