It was worth the wait. More than a week after the Miami Marlins initially agreed to terms with Johnny Cueto on a one-year, $8.5 million contract, they introduced the veteran right-hander at LoanDepot Park on Thursday morning. Cueto, draped in a Dominican flag, sauntered from center field to the mound with music blasting behind him, then danced along to it.
It is suspected that the Marlins will soon complete a trade involving one of their incumbent major league starting pitchers, with Pablo López’s name being linked to the widest variety of suitors. But the immediate corresponding move to squeeze Cueto onto their 40-man roster was anticlimactic.
Daniel Castano was designated for assignment. The jovial lefty spent five seasons in the Marlins organization after coming over from St. Louis in the Marcell Ozuna trade. He posted a 3.89 ERA and 4.86 FIP in 85 2⁄3 innings as a big leaguer (22 G/17 GS).
Castano had a couple brilliant road outings—embedded below—against the New York Yankees (2020) and Philadelphia Phillies (2022). For the most part, though, his lack of standout secondary pitches limited his ability to miss bats and made him untrustworthy multiple times through a lineup.
Castano suffered a concussion on July 28 after being struck in the head by a comebacker. On his road to recovery, he suffered a small tear in his throwing shoulder, so he didn’t make any appearances (majors or minors) from that point forward. Recently, he has returned to throwing at full intensity.
The logic behind DFA’ing Castano is simple to follow. He has run out of minor league options and doesn’t have a clear niche to fill on the projected Opening Day roster. The Marlins still hope to keep him around the organization as Triple-A depth, so the timing of this move is key. We are in the 40-man roster crunch sweetspot of the offseason—few teams have roster spots to spare on a waiver claim, and Castano’s upside probably is not attractive enough to entice them to cut another player in order to make room for the 28-year-old.
The likely outcome is that Castano will clear waivers, get outrighted to the minors and participate in Marlins spring training as a non-roster invitee.