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Marlins to decline Starlin Castro’s $16 million option

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After 10 MLB seasons, Castro will get his first taste of free agency.

Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Rather than commit to paying Starlin Castro $16 million for the 2020 season, the Marlins are declining his club option, per MLB insider Jon Heyman. Castro will become a free agent once the move is official.

As Heyman mentioned bluntly in the above tweet, the veteran infielder arrived in Miami without much hype. Right-hander Jorge Guzman and shortstop José Devers were regarded as far more valuable pieces in the Giancarlo Stanton trade package. The Yankees included Castro to help them duck underneath the luxury tax threshold for the 2018 season (and pave the way for Gleyber Torres to play regularly in the majors).

But the four-time All-Star actually proved to be a solid veteran presence for the rebuilding Fish. He’s led the team with 316 games played since 2018, slashing .274/.314/.418—approximately league average production when adjusting for Marlins Park’s run-suppressing factors. Paid $23.7 million total over that span, Castro’s 3.6 fWAR suggests he lived up to that contract. For what it’s worth, he also conducted himself maturely with his teammates and the media.

A couple months into the 2019 campaign, it became apparent that top second base prospect Isan Díaz was ready for major league reps. Unfortunately, Castro slumped at the plate so severely that the Marlins never came close to finding a contender interested in his services. Making the best of an awkward situation, Castro transitioned to third base down the stretch, demonstrating the kind of defensive versatility that MLB teams covet. More importantly, his bat caught fire to buoy his overall stats back up to respectability.

All that being said, I estimate the chances of Castro re-signing with the Marlins at around 15%. With Díaz and Brian Anderson projected to open 2020 at second and third base, respectively, it doesn’t appear to be an attractive opportunity for somebody so accustomed to starting on a daily basis.