2022 Key Mariners Moments: Trading for Luis Castillo
After the Mariners proved they were legitimate with their 14-straight wins heading into the All-Star break, general manager Jerry Dipoto listened to the fans’ desires to make a splash on the trade market. Dipoto did just that; he made a massive splash.
Through July 29, 2022, the team was 54-47 and was ready to continue their bid at a playoff spot. However, they were missing one thing, an ace. While it is true that they signed the reigning AL Cy Young Robbie Ray, Ray had been struggling up to that point in the season, so it was time to make a splash and take a chance on another potential ace to take some pressure off.
That ace was Cincinnati Reds righty Luis Castillo, the king of the sinker and changeup, having two of the nastiest pitches of any starter in the league. For the Reds up to that point, Castillo was an All-Star with a 4-4 record, 2.86 ERA, and 90 strikeouts in 85 innings.
His sub-3.00 ERA was the perfect addition for a Mariners team that has been missing a true ace since the prime years of King Felix Herandez, and Castillo was the perfect man to fill that role. However, to get a player of his caliber, fans had to say goodbye to some prospects that have been hyped up to be next in line for the team.
The trade package that Dipoto settled on sending to the Reds was SS/3B Noelvi Marte, SS Edwin Arroyo, SP Levi Stoudt, and RP Andrew Moore. While the team sent out three of their top six prospects, they were all players with uphill battles to find playing time anytime soon in Seattle.
The trade worked well for the team in several ways. Castillo was vital in the push to the playoffs and had two good starts for the team in the postseason, and he also signed a five-year extension with the club to stay in Seattle for the long term.
In 11 regular season starts post-trade, the righty went 4-2 with a 3.17 ERA, 77 strikeouts, 1.102 WHIP, and thew 65.1 innings. While overall he pitched slightly worse than his first-half production for the Reds, He did have a better FIP than his time in Cinci, and his strikeouts per nine increased from 9.5 to 10.6 after the trade, proof that his stuff is just as deadly as ever.
The team as a whole also continued to play well after the trade. In the 61 games after the trade, the team went 36-25, a winning percentage of .590 compared to the season-long winning percentage of .556 for the team.
Most importantly though, he pitched well when it mattered most. He pitched twice in the postseason and despite winning one start and losing the other, he pitched the team in a position to win both of his starts.
He pitched 7.1 innings, gave up six hits, had five strikeouts, and surrendered no earned runs in his start against the Toronto Blue Jays in the Wild Card. Then, he pitched 7.0 innings for five hits, seven strikeouts and three earned runs in a loss to the Astros in the ALDS. With a full season in Seattle, Castillo will be a top candidate for the 2023 AL Cy Young and lead the Mariners to another postseason berth.