BALTIMORE — Orioles catcher Welington Castillo has declined a $7 million player option for the 2018 season, opting to become a free agent.
Castillo signed a $6 million, one-year deal with Baltimore last November that included the option.
He played in 96 games for the Orioles, batting .282 with 20 homers and 53 RBIs.
"Welington Castillo had one of his best offensive years and threw out almost half of the base stealers, so it’s no surprise he chose free agency," Orioles vice-president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said Monday.
Duquette probably won’t pursue Castillo during the off-season.
"Fortunately, the Orioles have Caleb Joseph and Chance Sisco on the roster and Austin Wynns on the horizon," Duquette said. "Castillo helped the club move on from Matt Wieters and bridge the gap to see that Joseph was healthy and allow more time for the club to develop Sisco and Wynns."
Castillo has a .259 batting average over eight seasons. He broke in the Chicago Cubs and played with Seattle and Arizona before joining the Orioles.
Joseph has been a backup for his entire career. The 22-year-old Cisco made his debut last year, going 6 for 18 after being called up in September, and Wynns has not yet advanced beyond the minor league level.
The move comes after the Orioles declined team options for left-hander Wade Miley and shortstop J.J. Hardy.
The 31-year-old Miley went 8-15 with a 5.61 ERA for Baltimore this season.
Hardy became expendable after the Orioles acquired shortstop Tim Beckham from Tampa Bay in July.
Instead of paying the 35-year-old Hardy $14 million in 2018, the Orioles opted for the $2 million buyout in his contract. Miley was slated to receive $12 million in 2018; instead, he receives a $500,000 buyout.