SEATTLE — The Seattle Mariners quickly found a replacement for the back end of their bullpen, acquiring right-hander Diego Castillo from the Tampa Bay Rays for reliever JT Chargois and a minor league infielder on Thursday.
It also was annouced that pitcher Héctor Santiago was suspended for 80 games by Major League Baseball after a positive test for external testosterone, exactly one month after he was banned for 10 games when he became the first player penalized under the sport’s crackdown on grip-enhancing substances.
Castillo likely will jump into the closer role that was vacated when the Mariners traded Kendall Graveman to the Houston Astros earlier in the week. But unlike Graveman, who will be a free agent after the season, the Mariners gain a significant amount of control for the future with the acquisition of Castillo.
“I’ve said all along that we were focused on doing what we could to improve our team now and to continue to improve our team for 2022 and beyond. We feel like we’ve accomplished that,” Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said. “I can’t tell you that we will make another deal between now and the deadline but we’re not intentionally done.”
Castillo, 27, has 14 saves in 37 appearances and a 2.72 ERA this season for the Rays. He had a 1.66 ERA in 21 appearances during the shortened 2020 season for Tampa Bay. Castillo also appeared in 10 postseason games last year for Tampa Bay and allowed two earned runs in 11 innings.
More important for Seattle, Castillo will be under teaam control through 2024. It’s not a flashy move in the short term that will help Seattle compete with Oakland and the New York Yankees in the AL wild-card race. But it’s one that should make Seattle better in the future.
“We’re not going to empty the coffer to try to keep up with what others are doing on trade deadline day,” Dipoto said. “The fact that we’re here has surprised many.”
Chargois, 30, has been a solid addition to Seattle’s bullpen this season, making 31 appearances with a 3.00 ERA after not pitching in 2020. He’s primarily been a bridge option, pitching mostly in the sixth and seventh innings. Chargois had gone eight straight appearances without giving up an earned run before getting tagged for three runs by the Astros on Wednesday.
The suspension under MLB’s drug program for Santiago will cost him about half his $700,000 major league salary.
“In 2020, while I was not on the roster of a MLB club, I consulted a licensed physician in Puerto Rico who diagnosed me with a condition and recommended hormonal replacement therapy,” Santiago said in a statement issued through the Major League Baseball Players Association.
A 33-year-old left-hander, Santiago is 1-1 with a 3.42 ERA in 13 relief appearances this season.
He is a 10-year big league veteran, going 48-51 with a 4.12 ERA and six saves for the Chicago White Sox (2011-13, 2018-19), Los Angeles Angeles (2014-16), Minnesota Twins (2016-17), New York Mets (2019) and the Mariners.