Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Astros face a decision with Jason Castro

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At 26 years old, Jason Castro is just starting to tap into his potential as one of the players around whom the Houston Astros are presumably building their franchise after ripping things down in 2013.

In 120 games last season, Castro batted .276/.350/.485 with 18 home runs and 56 RBI. That kind of production is golden from a catcher, as Castro was good for 4.3 fWAR.

Unfortunately for the Astros and their precise building plan, they have to account for each and every dollar when a player is potentially due for a big payday. As he is eligible for arbitration later this month, the team might have to already consider a trade for Castro.

The Astros will try to sign Castro to an extension first. How difficult will that be? Evan Drelich of the Houston Chronicle writes the following as part of an extensive breakdown of the situation:

For any position player in that service-time range who posted a season of 4 WAR in either the year directly preceding his extension or the one before it, the smallest deal was three years and $14.4 million. Elvis Andrus, a Scott Boras client, agreed to that contract with the Rangers and signed a $120 million extension a year later.”

For now, the Astros are listening to trade offers with the hope that another team will overpay in a deal. Otherwise, the team can wait because Castro is still under team control through 2017.

The reasons this feels more pressing for Houston right now are because Castro’s value is sky and because the market for catchers is thin this off-season.

Eventually the Astros will have to actually keep players to build a foundation; this off-season will give us a sense if they plan to have Castro be one of those players.

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