Exploring the potential return if the Cincinnati Reds decided to trade Luis Castillo

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

When front office activity resumes following Major League Baseball’s lockout, one of the biggest questions facing the Cincinnati Reds is whether they will trade one of their starting pitchers.

A decision to trade Luis Castillo, Tyler Mahle or Sonny Gray signals at least a short-term rebuild, pushing them out of playoff contention for the 2022 season. If the Reds don’t sign them to contract extensions, they have a two-year window to win with those starting pitchers before they reach free agency.

Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Luis Castillo (58) and Cincinnati Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson (37) share a laugh during a mound visit in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. The St. Louis Cardinals won, 3-1.
Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Luis Castillo (58) and Cincinnati Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson (37) share a laugh during a mound visit in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. The St. Louis Cardinals won, 3-1.

Castillo is probably the most intriguing case. He’s arguably the best pitcher on the trade market. He’s had stretches of complete dominance and he’s been healthy throughout his big-league career. Despite losing a league-high 16 games last season, the result of a frustrating first two months, he posted a 2.73 ERA in his final 22 outings while striking out more than a batter per inning.

What should the Reds expect in a trade involving Castillo? The Reds reportedly wanted infielder Gleyber Torres plus prospects in talks with the New York Yankees about Castillo last winter.

It’s unknown how far trade talks advanced before the Dec. 2 lockout, but the Reds have a high asking price for Castillo and they shouldn’t be pressured to make a deal unless a team matches it. There will be pitching-needy teams at both the 2022 trade deadline and next offseason.

Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Luis Castillo (58) walks off the mound in the second inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.
Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Luis Castillo (58) walks off the mound in the second inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.

If the Reds make the decision to trade Castillo, it wouldn’t be driven by payroll. He’s expected to make around $8 million next season, but any decision to deal Castillo would be a reflection the Reds aren't likely to earn a playoff spot in 2022. The Reds would look to add players who fit into the next core built around India, Tyler Stephenson, Jose Barrero, Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo.

There are three trades in recent years involving pitchers comparable to Castillo statistically: Trevor Bauer in July 2019, Blake Snell last winter and José Berríos at last year’s trade deadline. Those three pitchers were all 27 or 28 years old at the time of their trades, and more than a year from free agency. Castillo will turn 29 on Sunday.

Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Luis Castillo (58) enters the dugout at the end of the top of the fifth inning of the MLB baseball game between Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday, July 24, 2021, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.
Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Luis Castillo (58) enters the dugout at the end of the top of the fifth inning of the MLB baseball game between Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday, July 24, 2021, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.

Since the start of the 2018 season, Castillo ranks 14th among all pitchers in WAR (wins above replacement), according to FanGraphs. Jacob deGrom leads the pack (23.5 WAR). Castillo (12.5) ranks four spots behind Bauer (13.3), one spot behind Berrios (12.6) and 10 spots ahead of Snell (10.1).

Change the range from 2019-2021 and Castillo ranks 10th (10.4) in FanGraphs’ WAR calculations behind deGrom, Gerrit Cole, Zack Wheeler, Max Scherzer, Lance Lynn, Charlie Morton, Shane Bieber, Lucas Giolito and Walker Buehler.

When the Minnesota Twins traded Berríos last summer, he was 1½ seasons from reaching free agency. With reportedly at least four offers for Berrios, the Twins dealt him to the Toronto Blue Jays for a pair of prospects: infielder Austin Martin and pitcher Simeon Woods Richardson. Berrios agreed to a seven-year, $131 million contract extension last month.

Martin was the No. 5 overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, and he was rated as the No. 36 prospect in the sport, according to Baseball America’s latest rankings. Woods Richardson was a second-round pick in 2018.

San Diego Padres pitcher Blake Snell reacts in the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on Aug. 31.
San Diego Padres pitcher Blake Snell reacts in the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on Aug. 31.

The Rays dealt Snell to the San Diego Padres after losing in the World Series with three seasons left on his contract for $39 million. The Padres packaged four players in that deal: Major Leaguers Luis Patiño and Francisco Mejia, and minor leaguers Cole Wilcox and Blake Hunt.

Patiño, a right-handed pitcher, and Mejia, a catcher, both were backups on the Rays’ playoff roster. Patiño was considered the centerpiece of the Rays’ return, ranked as a consensus Top-25 prospect before the start of the 2021 season. Wilcox ranks ninth in Tampa’s strong farm system, according to Baseball America, though he will miss the upcoming season after he underwent Tommy John surgery.

The Cleveland Guardians sent Bauer to the Reds in a three-team deal ahead of the 2019 trade deadline with 1½ seasons remaining on his contract. Cleveland received one outfielder on an expiring contract, Yasiel Puig, and one outfielder/designated hitter to build around, Franmil Reyes. Plus, they received a top-100 level prospect in starting pitcher Logan Allen.

As the Reds saw in their last rebuild, they can’t afford to miss on trades with their best players. Not receiving more impact talent for players like Johnny Cueto and Aroldis Chapman was costly for the next four years.

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Cincinnati Reds trade rumors: Luis Castillo, prospects in return

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting