There are plenty of players on the Cincinnati Reds who would be great fits for the New York Yankees. We started off with Joey Votto last week, followed that up with Tyler Mahle, and today we pivot to the best of the Reds’ arms, Luis Castillo. You may remember Castillo’s slow start to 2021. He struggled badly to prevent runs, and his changeup effectiveness plummeted. There were many theories as to why, but nobody really knew for sure. He stopped getting swings and misses on one of the best pitches of the previous two seasons. It was mind boggling.
Despite that, he rebounded for a stellar second half. The finger guns were back, and Castillo’s confidence returned along with his changeup’s swing and miss ability. Going into 2022, the Reds have themselves a borderline ace, no question. He is set to make a mere $7.5 million despite being a 3.7 fWAR pitcher in a down season. If he continues his second half success, he will likely be a four-win pitcher at least, delivering millions in surplus value for the club. The Reds should keep him, but if they don’t, then the Yankees should be slamming on the door.
I can’t imagine a better option on the trade market than Castillo. His health has been excellent throughout his entire career. He made over 30 starts in each of the three most recent full seasons and even made 12 in the pandemic season of 2020. The volume alone would make him a perfect two starter behind Gerrit Cole. It also gives the team some cushion to ramp up Luis Severino and Jameson Taillon. It’s not a hard trade to argue in favor of. There is no denying the value that Castillo would bring upon his arrival to the Bronx.
The issue here is the return. Castillo isn’t one of those pitchers you can get a steal of a deal on. He has a lot going for him. Talent, health, a plus pitch that will age well, and a demonstrated ability to make mid-season adjustments are some his best qualities. Then, of course, you have the fact that he makes significantly less than what he produces. His year-to-date earnings in his career are $6,093,241, but according to FanGraphs, he has produced $115.1 million in terms of dollars per fWAR. Even with his pay bump of $7.5 million for 2022, and probably almost double that in 2023, there is a great probability that he continues the trend of outproducing his salary, making his value in trade talks extremely high.
Last year, a Gleyber Torres for Castillo trade was fair, but after Torres’ horrid 2020 and demonstrated limitations as a second baseman only, that deal is off the table. Instead, it would take players like Oswald Peraza, Trey Sweeney, and other top 15 prospects in the system. It takes a lot to get a player of Castillo’s caliber. With the holes on the Yankees’ roster, it would be worth it.
Because of the depth in the Yankees’ farm system, there are several players who are bound to be traded. It would be nice if Brian Cashman allocated those resources towards star players like Castillo, but the odds are slim given what the cost would be. You never know what the Yankees’ level of aggressiveness will be post-lockout, but it’s best to expect the worst and hope for the best.