Seattle Mariners President of Baseball Operations Jerry Dipoto has said that the team will bring in two starting pitchers this winter. The Mariners have the other three rotation spots filled with Marco Gonzales, Chris Flexen, and Logan Gilbert, but they should not expect prospects like George Kirby, Matt Brash, or others to fill the rest of the rotation out. Seattle has been linked to one starting pitcher who is rumored to be available in trade, Reds starting pitcher Luis Castillo.
MLB insider Jon Morosi noted here that the Reds are indeed willing to trade Luis Castillo, and that the Mariners are one of the teams interested in acquiring him. The Mariners could put together a nice trade package for Castillo to bring him to Seattle.
A trade that the Mariners could use to show them what the value is for Castillo is the Indians trading Mike Clevinger, Greg Allen, and a player to be named later to the Padres for Austin Hedges, Josh Naylor, Cal Quantrill, Gabriel Arias, Joey Cantillo, and Owen Miller at the 2020 trade deadline. This trade isn’t direct comparison though, because Clevinger had been a better pitcher consistently compared to Castillo, and had an extra half year of control.
Since Castillo is a lesser pitcher than Clevinger, has less club control, and is the only player going back to Seattle, the Mariners should be able to send less back to Cincinnati for Luis Castillo.
In this trade offer, the Mariners send a comparable package to the Reds in exchange for Luis Castillo. The Indians got young right hander Cal Quantrill, who compares to Emerson Hancock here. They also get Luis Torrens, who can be a part of their catching rotation going forward. The Reds get a young lefty in Adam Macko, who reached A ball last year, and can be a future piece of the next Reds playoff team.
Seattle should not be afraid to trade Hancock for Castillo, because they hope that Castillo today is what Hancock could be. This trade would certainly hurt the Mariners, as they would send away a Top-5 organizational prospect who was the number six overall pick in 2020, and they send away a good depth pitcher from their minor league system. They also send away Luis Torrens off their big league club, who is solid.
The Mariners get a current middle to top of the rotation arm here in Luis Castillo, who is about a 3-win pitcher for his career according to Fangraphs. Castillo started 33 games in 2021, had just under 10 K/9 innings, and had better xERA and xFIP than his actual numbers, so there is some hope that he could be even better in 2021.
Something that can help make Luis Castillo even better that some fans may be unaware of is the Mariners’ analytics and player development staffs. The Mariners have been able to turn several no-name pitchers into studs. Example A: Paul Sewald. Sewald was mostly a nobody for his career and was signed by Seattle as a minor league free agent. He came up in May, and for most of the season was one of the most dominant relievers in all of baseball.
The Mariners also helped Chris Flexen drastically improve this year, after being brought over from Korea last offseason. So, if Seattle can help turn these players into better pitchers, than the Mariners should certainly be able to help maximize the talent of Luis Castillo.
Luis Castillo has a solid pitching arsenal with a fastball that can touch 100, and a sinker that sits in the high-90s. He also has a good slider and changeup that are both in the mid to high 80s. If he were to be acquired, Castillo would have some of the best stuff on the staff, and could make the Mariners immediately a much better team in 2022.