The Seattle Mariners finally got their man.
Wanting to add a top-shelf starting pitcher since the offseason, the Mariners acquired Luis Castillo from the Cincinnati Reds for a quartet of minor-leaguers – shortstops Noelvi Marte and Edwin Arroyo and starters Levi Stoudt and Andrew Moore. A heavy price for a 29-year-old set to hit free agency after next season. But contenders dealing prospects is part of the business.
As the esteemed Dave Grosby noted earlier this month, there are two reasons teams have prospects. Last night, the Mariners chose the option “The Groz” didn’t mention. The organization used equity developed on the farm to immediately improve its big-league roster in a meaningful way.
2 reasons to have prospects and one is to develop them
— Dave Grosby (@Thegroz) July 14, 2022
I already know what more than a few of you are thinking. The haul the Reds received is highly regarded, which immediately feeds into a long-standing fear shared by a segment of Seattle’s fan base. Some of the youngsters sent to Cincinnati could become good major leaguers or even *gasp* stars. What if the Mariners just gave up the next Jason Varitek, Adam Jones, Freddy Peralta, or Pablo López?
Fans may not want to believe this, but trades are supposed to benefit all teams involved. If the Reds end up with helpful pieces for their rebuild, great. And good luck to Marte, Arroyo, Stoudt, and Moore. I hope they all enjoy long, productive careers in the majors. On the other hand, consider the upside the Mariners are receiving right now and through the 2023 campaign.
Castillo immediately becomes the best starter on the Mariners and possesses the talent to once again earn that distinction next season. In multiple statistical categories, the right-hander is superior to Seattle’s five main starters – 2021 AL Cy Young Award winner Robbie Ray, Logan Gilbert, Marco Gonzales, Chris Flexen, and rookie George Kirby.
Castillo’s stats (and rank on the M’s)
6.1 IP/GS (1st)
71 QS% (1st)
2.86 ERA (2nd)
3.20 FIP (1st)
2.0 HR% (1st)
25.8 K% (2nd)
8.0 BB% (5th)
1.071 WHIP (1st)
.201 AVG (1st)
.274 OBP (1st)
.318 SLG (1st)
.266 wOBA (1st)
.280 xwOBA (1st)
Sure, there’s a risk Castillo gets injured or regresses between now and the end of next season. After all, the two-time All-Star is a professional athlete and a pitcher nonetheless. But letting what-ifs or fear of failure drive decision-making to the point of inaction is counterproductive and the hallmark of an unsuccessful organization. Seattle’s stated objective for 2022 and future campaigns is reach and advance in the postseason. Castillo can play a crucial role in the turning the team’s goals into reality right now.
The Castillo acquisition is meaningful for another reason, if only symbolic in nature. The Mariners reportedly beat out the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers for arguably the best starting pitcher available on the trade market. When was the last time Seattle outbid the competition for a premium talent at the trade deadline?
The Yankees told the Reds from the outset of talks on Castillo that they would not include Anthony Volpe. A deal built around Oswald Peraza was not going to match in Cincy’s view what it ultimately received from the Mariners.
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) July 30, 2022
Essentially, landing Castillo signals the Mariners are fully committed to be being a postseason contender in 2022. President of Baseball Operations Jerry Dipoto said as much to Seattle Times beat writer Ryan Divish and other members of the media. This is a good thing for Seattle’s long-suffering fan base.
“We see Luis Castillo as an impact, top of the rotation starter who’s currently on top of his game. Our goal remains to play in the postseason, now and in the years to come. We believe adding Luis is a big step in that direction.” – Jerry Dipoto
Perhaps Mariners fans concerned about losing prospects can find some solace in knowing their favorite team has become good at identifying, acquiring, and developing young players. Therefore, it’s reasonable to believe the Dipoto regime can continue to succeed at this core function, which had been a shortcoming of the organization for decades.
I’m sure the “same ole Mariners” crowd will remain pessimistic. They prefer focusing on the team’s many previous player-acquisition miscues and the unavoidable fact Seattle hasn’t reached the postseason since 2001. That’s fine. But this year’s club won’t fall into that tired, clichéd category, even it falls short of the postseason. If it did, Dipoto doesn’t pull off the Castillo deal. Instead, he adds around the edges missing a golden opportunity to significantly improve his roster.
That’s not what happened yesterday. Dipoto and the Mariners went for it, finally. Perhaps doing so backfires in the long run. But what’s the alternative? Wait for the next year’s prospect rankings from Keith Law and revel in how well Seattle’s farm system stacks up against the rest of the league?
By acquiring Castillo yesterday, Dipoto changed how the Mariners are perceived nationally. Essentially, he ushered in a new era where Seattle will be taken seriously in the trade market and as a postseason contender.
Like I said, today is a good day.
The Mariners finally got their man.
My Oh My…
Luke is a native New Yorker, who grew up as a Mets fan. After the US Navy moved him to the Pacific Northwest in 2009, he decided to make Seattle his home.
In 2014, Luke joined the Prospect Insider team. During baseball season, he can often be found observing the local team at T-Mobile Park.
You can follow Luke on Twitter @luke_arkins