EE3rWPhoto Credit: Erik Drost on Flickr3ew4 ww1 rtr CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
I hope you got a long look, Reds fans, because yesterday’s MLB All-Star Game might be one of the last times we’ll get to watch Luis Castillo in a (sort of) Reds uniform. With the trade deadline looming like Tax Day and the Reds far out of contention, the writing is on the wall for the 29-year-old righthander. His days in Cincinnati are numbered. For those who took in exhibition baseball last night, Castillo did not disappoint.
Luis Arraez of the AL Central-leading Minnesota Twins led off for the American League when Castillo entered in the top of the fifth inning. Despite leading the American League in on-base percentage and batting average, the Twins’ first baseman looked silly versus Castillo’s heat. Arraez would strike out to the tune of three straight 98 mph fastballs.
Forgoing his usual long-sleeve look, Castillo looked the part of a dominant starter in the Midsummer Classic. The bright lights of Los Angeles didn’t seem to faze him one bit as he made quick work of the AL batters, save for a weakly hit single to right field by Cleveland Guardians third baseman Jose Ramirez. He showcased his entire repertoire.
With less than two weeks until the MLB Trade Deadline, the market for Castillo was already heating up. Now, it’s boiling over.
If I’m an American League team, I’m giving the Reds a call right now.
As much as it may sting to see a homegrown product like Castillo leave town, this may be the best opportunity the Reds have had in a long time to jump start their rebuilding process. Castillo is hands-down the best starter available on the market. He throws hard, generates lots of swings and misses, has been durable throughout his career, and is in the middle of the best season of his life. There’s a lot to love.
That’s why it's absolutely imperative that the Reds get the biggest haul possible. This can’t be another Aroldis Chapman situation.
For those of you who don’t remember, in 2015, after ugly domestic violence allegations surfaced against the fireballing Cuban, the Reds panic-traded Chapman to the New York Yankees in exchange for right-hander Rookie Davis, right-hander Caleb Cotham, third baseman Eric Jagielo, and second baseman Tony Renda. I’ll save you some time: none of these guys play baseball anymore. Yup, you read that correctly, and I’m just as stunned as you are.
Hopefully the Reds have learned their lesson: if you’re going to do a deal with the Devil, at least make it worth it. According to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, the Yankees, who currently own baseball’s best record, are eye-balling Castillo to fill out their rotation. Heyman also alleges, however, that the Yankees aren’t interested in trading either of their top two prospects, shortstop Anthony Volpe or shortstop Oswald Peraza. Well then, too bad I say. Hey, Boston Red Sox, any interest in sliding the rug out from underneath your hated rivals?
If the Yankees aren’t going to part with either one of their top prospects, then the Reds simply cannot make the trade. If I’m Reds’ GM Nick Krall, I’m immediately hanging up the phone if the Yankees call and the first five words I hear aren’t, “OK, we’ll give you Volpe.”
Do the Reds really need another shortstop prospect? Not really, given Jose Barrero is knocking on the MLB-door at AAA Louisville and rising-superstar Elly De La Cruz continuing his meteoric rise at A+ Dayton. But that’s not the point. The Reds need talent - big time talent. Position, at this point, is irrelevant.
The Reds cannot afford a sub-par return. Besides, if they really want to, the Reds can keep Castillo for another year. Sure, it’ll be expensive, given he’s entering his third year of arbitration. But the alternative? No way. Not ever. Nuh uh.
That’s why if I’m the Reds, I’m calling the Red Sox, the Tampa Bay Rays, and the Toronto Blue Jays daily. All three are chasing the Yanks in the AL East, and all three are either in or within spitting distance of the three Wild Card spots. After seeing what Castillo could do against Arraez, one of the best hitters in the MLB, adding a pitcher like him could go a long way towards securing that Wild Card spot, or maybe even catching up with the Yankees.
Whadda ya say, Yanks? Ready to part with Volpy? No? That’s fine. Just fine.
Hey Tampa, do you need another ace to go with Shane McClanahan?
Hey Boston, how about a front-line starter for you while Chris Sale is out?
Hey Toronto, you have three-fourths of a playoff rotation, want to finally put on the finishing touches?
Trading Castillo was never on any Reds’ fans wish list at the start of the season, but if the front office does this correctly, this trade may set the team up for future success - and it may happen much sooner than we expect. The Reds may be bad, but they have talent. Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo continue to flash excellence. Jonathan India and Tyler Stephenson are already everyday studs. If Tyler Mahle isn’t traded, that’s a third solid arm in the starting rotation. Some of the pieces are already in place. Castillo gives the Reds a good chance to find the pieces that are missing.