White Sox Trade Failed First-Rounder To Mets For Vet Ramon Castro

The Deal
With an eye toward alleviating a catching logjam, the Mets traded Ramon Castro, their backup backstop since 2005, to the White Sox for 25-year-old righthander Lance Broadway. New York also included cash in the deal to help offset Castro’s $2.5 million salary in what is the final year of a two-year, $4.6 million deal.

Castro, 33, batted .253/.322/.430 in 79 at-bats for the Mets this season, clubbing three home runs in 26 games. In his five years with the Mets, who signed him prior to the 2005 season, he batted .252/.321/.452 with 33 home runs and 121 RBIs in 701 at-bats, all while throwing out 27 percent of basestealers. Though he’s hit well enough to warrant regular play, Castro never has started more than 57 games in a season because he’s struggled to stay healthy under heavier workloads.

Castro’s power prompted the Astros to make the native of Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, the 17th overall pick in the 1994 draft. He spent eight seasons in the minors, hitting 94 home runs and slugging .463 along the way, first for the Astros and then the Marlins. Florida gave him his first extended big league look, in 2002, but his dismal showing in 2004 (he batted .135/.231/.260 and then pleaded no contest to an indecent assault charge that November) left him with few suitors on the free agent market. He eventually settled on a minor league deal with the Mets.

The Young Player
Though Broadway’s downer curveball can be overwhelming when it’s on, very little about his performance in Triple-A can be described as such. In 54 games (53 of them starts) for Charlotte, concentrated mostly in ’07 and ’08, Broadway compiled a 4.67 ERA to go with a pedestrian 1.8 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 322 innings. Our pre-draft scouting report on Broadway coming out of Texas Christian in 2005 pegged him as a pitcher who “succeeds more with polish than overwhelming stuff.” Though the report did credit him with “a plus curveball that he can locate in and out of the strike zone.” The White Sox selected the durable 6-foot-3, 195-pound righthander with the 15th overall pick.

Groomed as a starter in the minors, Broadway will continue on his path as a reliever, a course he first began charting in 2007 when he made his big league debut. As a reliever for the White Sox this season, he went 0-1, 5.06 in eight games, compiling nine strikeouts and nine walks in 16 innings. Coming out of the pen, Broadway can emphasize his 77-80 mph breaking ball, and he won’t have to expose his fringy high-80s sinker and sinking changeup quite as frequently. He has one option year remaining after this season.

Quick Take
An injury to Mets’ regular catcher Brian Schneider in mid-April set in motion the chain of events that led to Castro’s trade to Chicago. Schneider’s back injury necessitated the emergency callup of Triple-A Buffalo catcher Omir Santos, a 28-year-old minor league veteran whom the club had signed in the offseason. Despite spotty minor league production—including a .636 OPS in 138 Triple-A games and a .657 mark in 222 Double-A contests—Santos’ first big league home run was a grand slam, and he provided the Mets with a number of clutch hits in May, endearing himself to manager Jerry Manuel in the process. So when Schneider returned from the disabled list, Santos was kept on as the club’s backup catcher, a scenario that would have seemed inconceivable just two months ago.

For his part, Castro should fit right in with the White Sox, providing the righthanded-hitting complement to regular A.J. Pierzynski that Toby Hall and Corky Miller have failed to provide during the past two seasons.

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