Analysis: Grading Seattle Mariners’ Trade For RHP Luis Castillo
It’s that time of year. The stove is finally hot and, while the Mariners may not have turned on the stove, they did crank the dials to 11 when they acquired Reds All-Star pitcher Luis Castillo on Friday night. The price shocked many Mariners fans and excited most Reds fans, but how well did these two teams actually make out?
Reds receive SS Edwin Arroyo, INF Noelvi Marte, RHP Levi Stoudt and RHP Andrew Moore
The Reds did well in return for their best trade asset, acquiring a pair of consensus top-100 prospects and two arms that certainly carry interesting upside. Arroyo is the prize of this deal as the 18-year-old shortstop has torn the Cal League a new one with his exciting blend of average and power. A switch-hitter, Arroyo has already answered some of the pre-draft questions about his power potential, though it still currently projects as fringe-average. He’ll have no problems sticking at shortstop and has a strong arm and good speed to boot. He’s a ways off from the big leagues, but this isn’t a deterrent to a rebuilding Reds team.
Marte may steal the headlines, but he’s got some work to do. Thankfully, he’s just 20 years old and already looks like a grown man, so there is plenty of time to figure things out. He has plus raw power and could be a 35 home run bat with some decent average and on-base skills, though there are holes in the swing and he hasn’t shown an ability to cover the whole plate just yet. Once a plus runner, Marte now settles much closer to average speed and his slim chances to stick at up-the-middle are gone. He’s a corner guy with plus raw power, but is likely four years away from having a good shot to stick in the big leagues.
Both Moore and Stoudt profile as relievers. Stoudt had some No. 3 starter buzz entering the season, but his best pitch, the changeup, has taken two steps back and the slider hasn’t improved much. He’s got the velocity and should throw enough strikes, but he’s 25 years old and running out of time to stick in the rotation. Moore’s fastball is special. It comes with plus velocity and spin numbers which gives him a high floor of a big leaguer. Whether or not he can develop a secondary pitch will determine his role.
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Mariners receive Luis Castillo
For their part, the Mariners have landed the massive fish that is Luis Castillo—a pitcher who immediately becomes Seattle’s best starter and arguably its second-best player. Castillo is a legitimate No. 2 who may not have peaked yet. He’s 29 and has had some minor injury issues, but he’s a high ground ball pitcher who misses bats and throws more than enough strikes. His primary weapons are his fastball and changeup. The heater sits 95-97 MPH and he’ll touch 100 MPH with some serious arm-side run. The changeup looks a bit like vintage Félix Hernández. It’s firm, averaging 88 MPH, but it darts out of the zone like a splitter, and opponents are hitting just .196 against the offering.
Castillo rounds out his arsenal with a solid two-seam fastball that averages 96 MPH and a good-but-not-great slider. He’s a four-pitch arm who, at his worst, is a high-level No. 3 starter who usually pitches like a No. 2. On any given day, he is capable of going toe-to-toe with any ace in baseball, and the cost to acquire him reflected as much.
The Mariners get Castillo for two playoff runs, making his cost that much more understandable. Not only did Seattle acquire a high-profile, legitimate, All-Star starter to help them get to the playoffs, but also to do damage once it gets there. In addition, heading into the winter with a rotation of Castillo, Robbie Ray, Logan Gilbert, George Kirby and Marco Gonzales locked into place allows the team to focus its resources on the offense. There is the possibility the Mariners can re-sign Castillo before he hits free agency after the 2023 season, and he’ll likely ask for something similar to what José Berríos received from the Blue Jays (seven years, $175 million). But any potential for an extension cannot be factored into the trade.
It can be a difficult concept to grasp at times, but one team doesn’t need to get ripped off for the other to win the trade. In fact, the primary goal of any trade is for both teams to be happy with their return. In this case, the Reds got two young bats they can build around who fit their contention window for a player who no longer did. Seattle gave up nobody who could help the organization for the next three or four years and acquired a ringer to contribute to two playoff races. The goal is for both teams to do well in any trade and the Reds and Mariners can—and should—be thrilled with what they both got.
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.