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White Sox sign Welington Castillo to 2-year deal

Welington Castillo is the first position player to sign a major-league free-agent deal this offseason.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The White Sox have agreed to a two-year contract with a club option for a third with free-agent catcher Welington Castillo. Castillo will earn $15 million guaranteed and has the potential to earn $8 million in the third year if the club option is picked up. He’ll earn a $7.25 million salary in each year of the deal and will receive a $500,000 buyout if the 2020 option is declined. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal broke the news on Friday afternoon, and Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan first reported the financial details.

Castillo, 30, is coming off a career year during his only season as a member of the Orioles. He became a free agent last month after declining a $7 million player option for 2018.

The addition of Castillo upgrades the White Sox’s catching corps in a fairly significant way. Their four catchers—Omar Narvaez, Kevan Smith, Geovany Soto, and Rob Brantly—combined for a .279/.346/.381 slash line with 10 homers over 615 plate appearances in 2017, with Smith leading the catchers with four home runs. Castillo alone hit .282/.323/.490 with 20 homers, and while his on-base percentage was lower than that of Chicago’s catchers, he’ll provide some much-needed pop to the White Sox’s lineup. Adding power is a necessary task for Chicago this offseason as they look to make up for Todd Frazier’s loss and perhaps look to shop Jose Abreu.

While trading Abreu or Avisail Garcia would sink the White Sox even deeper into the rebuilding process, signing Castillo signifies that they’re willing to spend on established veterans and are taking a small step forward in attempting to compete in the AL Central once again. With the Tigers already in the process of executing a complete teardown and the Royals possibly facing the likely possibility of having to rebuild, perhaps the White Sox are closer to competing again than anyone would have thought several months ago.