HOUSTON -- While the Astros said goodbye to Tal's Hill and longtime television play-by-play announcer Bill Brown on Wednesday, the regular-season home finale could have also been the final home game for veteran catcher Jason Castro, who will be a free agent this offseason for the first time.
Castro, drafted in the first round out of Stanford in 2008, had played in 571 career games at catcher entering Wednesday, which ranks third in franchise history behind Brad Ausmus (1,243) and Alan Ashby (900). In 2013, he set single-season club records by a catcher in doubles, homers, runs scored, extra-base hits, slugging percentage, multihit games and OPS.
"It's definitely weird," Castro said of Wednesday possibly being his last home game with Houston. "It's been a great 6 1/2 years here. It's the only organization I've been with. We'll see what happens, but I've been really thankful for the opportunities the Astros have given me and I enjoyed my time here. I was kind of glad I was able to see that rebuilding through to what we were able to accomplish last year, and what we still could possibly do this year."
Castro, 29, made his debut on June 22, 2010, going for 1-for-4 in a loss to the Giants in Houston. The Astros hadn't yet started to rebuild, and they were clinging to contention with a lineup featuring Michael Bourn, Jeff Keppinger, Lance Berkman, Carlos Lee, Hunter Pence and Roy Oswalt, all of whom were eventually traded.
Castro, who missed all of the 2011 season after tearing his ACL in Spring Training, endured three consecutive 100-loss seasons, and he caught and tutored countless young pitchers during that span. And of course, he was the starting catcher when the club broke through last year and made the postseason.
"I'm thankful I was called up at the time that I was, as far as the veterans that were here," Castro said. "And definitely what we were able to accomplish last year, making the playoffs for the first time in 10 years, and getting to experience that in Houston was awesome."
Castro isn't sure what the future holds or what the Astros are going to do. Hitting free agency for the first time is appealing, but Houston might be open to trying to bring him back because the catching market is so thin.
"It depends," Castro said. "There's no rush or clock on it, but waiting for a long time [to sign] also doesn't really sound appealing. It all kind of depends on scenarios and how the offseason plays out. I don't really know what it's going to bring and ... so we'll just play it by ear and roll with it."
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.