CLEARWATER, Fla. -- You can officially add Luis Castillo to the second base mix for the Phillies.
The 35-year-old former All Star and Gold Glove winner signed a minor-league deal and will report to Phillies camp sometime today.
The detail of it being a minor-league deal is important. It means the Phillies owe Castillo little in guaranteed money until his contract is purchased (when he is added to the 40-man roster). So if during the next week or so the Phillies decide he has nothing left, he can be cut without any owed money.
If Castillo makes the team, the Phillies will pay him the major-league minimum of $414,000.
That makes the acquisition of Castillo a low-risk one for the Phillies, who seek an upgrade over the current options in the wake of Chase Utley's chronic knee problems which will sideline him for the unforeseen future.
In New York, Castillo drew the ire of an entire fan base, seen as one of the overpriced, aging players that doomed the previous regime of Omar Minaya.
But Brian Schneider, who played with Castillo for two seasons in New York, called him a great teammate. Fairly or unfairly, Castillo's history with the Mets doomed his chances of making the club in 2011.
Phillies team officials had maintained they were content with the internal options to replace Utley, most likely headed by Wilson Valdez. In 363 plate appearances last season, Valdez had a career-high .667 OPS (which would rank as Castillo's 11th best) and contributed solid defense. It was the most major-league time the 32-year-old utility player has ever had.
Josh Barfield, Michael Martinez, Pete Orr and Delwyn Young have also seen regular time at second base during Grapefruit League play.
"I think we are very comfortable" with the current players, Phillies assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said Friday. "It's a hell of a competition. They've all played very well."
Not well enough, apparently, to preclude the addition of another.
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