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Orioles’ Welington Castillo declines player option

The catcher will officially become a free agent.

Baltimore Orioles v Cleveland Indians Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images

Orioles’ catcher Welington Castillo has declined his $7 million player option and will test the free agency waters, Jon Heyman reports.

Castillo, 30, enjoyed career-highs in batting average (.282), home runs (20), and OPS (.813) in 2017. He will become a free agent for the second straight season after being signed to a one-year deal by the Orioles last season, after he was not offered a contract by the Diamondbacks.

The catcher joins a long list of free agents for the Orioles, including Pedro Alvarez, Jeremy Hellickson, Seth Smith, Ubaldo Jimenez and Chris Tillman.

Despite a shaky reputation in his defensive ability, Castillo used his best offensive season to help the Orioles in the post Matt Wieters era.

Despite Castillo’s pending exit, the Orioles seem to be in good shape at the catcher position moving forward, with prized prospect Chance Sisco waiting to take over. The 22-year-old hit two home runs with an OPS of 1.232 in his brief 10-game stint with the team in 2017.

Castillo’s decision could also increase the chances of the Orioles bringing back Caleb Joseph for another season, while grooming Sisco to eventually take over the starting role.