The history of the Cincinnati Reds isn’t exactly littered with pitchers who could be argued as the best in the league. But we don’t have to go back very far to be able to make that argument thanks to the brilliance that was Johnny Cueto. Before Cueto, though, you have to go back two decades to Jose Rijo. The Reds, though, are in that position again where you could make the argument that Luis Castillo is among the best pitchers in the league.

Luis Castillo currently has the 5th best ERA in baseball with his 2.41 mark. Not that he hasn’t been good, or even really good at other parts of his career – but this year is a bit different. But it does stretch back to last year. Over the last calendar year Castillo’s ERA is 2.42 and the second best in baseball behind only Hyun-Jin Ryu. You could argue for guys like Ryu, Max Scherzer, or Jacob de Grom being better. But Castillo is right there.

And that’s why things were so shocking that Jon Paul Morosi had a story on Wednesday that the Cincinnati Reds didn’t have Luis Castillo off of the table in trade talks. I’ve long said that no one should be untouchable. And I stand by that. But it’s not to say I’m not surprised that the Reds are listening to offers.

What is it going to take to land Luis Castillo from the Cincinnati Reds? If the Reds are listening to me? Mike Trout. Maybe Wander Franco and Blake Snell. But you see what I’m getting at here, right? You’ve got to blow the Reds out of the water with a deal that no sane person would ever offer.

Luis Castillo can’t become a free agent until after the 2023 season. He will still be making the league minimum next year. Then his salary will rise as he enters arbitration in 2021-2023 based on his performance. His value is through the roof right now because he’s one of the best players at his position and he is making as little money as allowable in the sport.

The odds of the Reds actually moving Castillo in a trade are about the same as the odds that I win the lottery this weekend – and I do not play the lottery. But if someone offers me a ticket, I’ll hold onto it and see if the numbers are winners. And if the right team gets crazy enough to offer up a franchise changing deal, the Reds are going to rightfully listen. It’s just not likely to happen.

34 Responses

  1. Kyle

    Would you do:

    Castillo to the Rays for Brendan McKay, Jesus Sanchez, Vidal Brujan, and Shane McClanahan?

    McKay has looked PRETTY good this year…

    • Colt Holt

      I want more certainty of star power out of the centerpiece.

    • RedAlert

      I’m still mad at the Reds front office for not drafting McKay – he was sitting right there for them . Dude is a stud and you can’t teach the “it” factor. Had it in college and is just a bulldog . Gonna be a good major league player .

      • Hanawi

        Greene better be really good since they passed on him, Gore, and Adell, who were my top two choices in that draft.

      • Colt Holt

        The Reds made it clear that Greene was a clear number 1 on their board. They paid him a record bonus and most publications agreed with them that he was the best prospect in the class at the time. Others have stepped up and he got hurt, but that doesn’t mean they should have known that at the time.

  2. Lockersocks79

    We’ve spend the past 4-5 years trying to rebuild our rotation. We finally have a few solid arms to build around, it’s not even a subject that we should entertain. The Reds have a ton of money to spend this off season, let’s hope they add bullpen arms, a front if the rotation pitcher and sing puig long term. I don’t care what we’d get for Castillo, it’s time to compete.

    • Pete

      Reds can’t, or won’t, invest the money to buy a championship. If Castillo brings back enough blue-chippers, he should be considered for a trade. The team should always be looking to upgrade its value.

      The last great dynasty team, New York Yankees of the late 1990’s, built there club from a core of home grown talent and then “bought” a couple of key pieces. And the Yankees had/have more money than God. Reds need to build the core first. This comes from a lot of elbow grease, smarts, patience and some luck. There are no shortcuts around this process. You’re not going to see a WS Champ in the next 2-3 years min. The work must be done. Or you can enjoy several more seasons like the last 4-5.

      • Eric Wormus

        I wish I could frame this comment. The Reds are in the position they are in precisely because they refused to trade any players that still had value. When you are rebuilding, it’s not about the one-off trades you make, but what you do with the new “asset.”
        Flipping Straily for Castillo was a win. No doubt about it. But when you trade a 4 win pitcher from a 68 win team for 6ish win player of the same position, you aren’t doing enough to help your team.
        I harped on this in 2016 with Disco. There was a lot of talk about how he was exactly the kind of player to build around. Unfortunately, they didn’t have anyone available to build around him.
        If you are an 85-90 win team and you can turn someone like Dan Straily into an ace like Luis Castillo, you don’t even think about trading him. When you are a team like the Reds and are rebuilding, it’s always the second trade that is more important than the first.

  3. Who Knows

    Yordan, Whitley, and James from the Astros, or Lux, Ruiz, and May from the Dodgers. About the only two prospect laden deals I’d consider.

    • Colt Holt

      If the dodgers call, I basically demand bellinger. For the astros, I want Bergman.

  4. Davy13

    Is not the objective of building/rebuilding project is to finally finish and get a certificate of occupancy – in this case, to field a competitive, contending team? Why trade Castillo at all unless it is for a future HOF bat in his prime? Other than that scenario, is not Castillo one of the “building blocks” to contend? It makes more sense to me to trade a top, but unproven prospect for a young proven player (like a Yelich, whom the REDS missed the boat on big time). Finances are no longer a reason to not sign/resign top players (Steve Mancuso has shown that: https://redlegnation.com/2018/12/05/ownership-wealth-and-payroll-steve-mancuso/).

    However, I do believe that the REDS should be both sellers AND buyers to shape the ballclub for the future as well as staying on the trajectory of being a contender. So I believe trading Tanner Roark (age 34) ASAP makes sense for the ballclub.

    • Pete

      Davy, I invite you to look closely at the last WS Champs: Royals, Astros and Red Sox. You will note one common thread with all these clubs, a core of home grown talent they drafted and developed. Look at the Dodgers and Yankees of today and you will see the same. Do the Reds possess this? If not, what makes you believe we can skip the process? Castillo fits this mold and so does Nick Senzel and Amir Garrett but who else? The Reds need more guys like this trio and if it means moving any or all three to increase the overall high end talent numbers, they have to make the deal. As Doug suggests, the deal(s) would have to be overwhelming to even consider or as you suggest, we only dig the whole deeper.

      I have no clue who will play these positions next year and more so 2021 and beyond: 1B, 2B, SS, C, RF, and LF; and three starting pitchers. Outside of three guys in the bullpen, I can’t say there. This teams has holes to fill and we can’t buy our way out.

      • Davy13

        Pete, I do not disagree with you in principle. My point was not about the team skipping the building project and pay their way into contention per se. It is time to begin building on and around the foundation blocks (like Castillo, Senzel, Suarez) instead of getting rid of them to accumulate more prospects that may or may not pay off. It has been 4 yrs of rebuilding so the process has been skipped. As a fan I just don’t desire to keep seeing a vicious cycle of rebuilding on account of economics when that is no longer a compelling enough reason (e.g. Marlins).

        Homegrown prospects are assets either as contributors to their own team’s competitiveness or to be traded for contributors to the team’s success. If the Reds can be bold enough sign a few of other team’s proven homegrown talent (like Yelich), then they would be a lot more competitive sooner without immediately breaking the bank.

        Besides, my last thought did not discount the need for the team to be a judicious “seller” in order to restock the farm.

        Good sparring!

  5. NYRedsfan

    I wouldn’t be looking to trade Castillo. Build the rotation around him and Grey. But let’s play this game. Unless they’re getting a package from the Braves including all of – OF Pache, SP Anderson, OF Waters and Austin Riley, hang up the phone. After the past few years of watching this front office they’ll probably trade him for 4 players who will be out of the system in 2 years.

    • Colt Holt

      Acuna Matata! Theme of any trade I would consider is that your reaction should be, they would never do that!

  6. Matt WI

    I don’t know. I actually heard Morosi being interviewed on a Chicago sports-talk show Tuesday afternoon and he did talk about seeing Castillo as “being possibly moved.” I nearly crashed my car. But, really, it sure felt more like someone just speculating with a couple of other thoughts about available players. I’m with Doug… these are winning the lottery odds. Nothing solid here.

  7. Jim Walker

    A decade or so before Jose Rijo was perhaps the best pitcher in baseball, Mario Soto pitched for the Reds and was in the same conversation.

    However Mario Soto couldn’t keep the Reds from having some of their worst teams ever prior to the past 4-5 seasons. For me then, the question is can Luis Castillo get the Reds out last place? Or could the return for him perhaps serve the Reds better?

    The return would have to fit specific needs of the Reds for me to consider dealing Castillo. If they can get an above average MLB level position player with multiple years of control, a can’t miss position guy at AAA this year and a pitcher who fills into next season’s rotation, that might be enough for me to pull the trigger.

    • Colt Holt

      When thinking about prospects, Castillo has so much control that you could get a very compelling prospect package in two years. Young stud hitters are all over the majors right now. Controllable ace pitchers are not. I want the young stud (established) hitters plus high end prospects to think about moving Castillo.

  8. Michael P

    This is very interesting conversation. I agree with some of the comments above that the Reds tend to wait to long to trade their assets. The longer you wait, the more desperate you are, especially for small Market teams. Don’t get me wrong, the Reds should not ‘shop’ Castillo but at the same time, he’s not ‘off the market’ either. Yes trading him will make the rotation much weaker but if you can receive controllable players that improve multiple positions – does that help the overall ‘team’?

    The ‘rub’ for me is that he’s not just a great pitcher, he’s a true ACE and they are even harder to acquire, especially for the Reds. In order for him to move in trade the Reds would have to be overwhelmed.

    A proposal mentioned above of Atlanta’s top 3 prospects + Austin Riley is intriguing. 2 top 25 starting pitching prospects ready to contribute next year (Kyle Wright & Ian Anderson. Your potential 2020 CF in Christian Pache (#14 prospect) and Austin Riley who would be our LF starting right away. I don’t think even Castillo could command this haul but that would be where the Reds should start. Not in a panic mode. If this type of trade would happen the Reds would receive 4 top 25 prospects that would be ready to contribute in late 2019 and 2020 at LF, CF, and 2 rotations spots. That has to be an overall win and upgrade for the team. They could then go out an spend money on front line starters. In the end you have to score runs to win!

    • Jim Walker

      I think the Reds need to be very focused on areas of greatest needs. For me that’s catching, shortstop and 2B or CF (Senzel can fill either of the last 2 depending who they have to fill the other) . These are also the most difficult spots on the field to fill with all around solid to outstanding players. And I think at least one of the guys needs to have already demonstrated at the MLB level that he is an above average contributor.

      Anything else would be a lateral move at best.

      • Michael E

        I think trading for need is about as bad as drafting for need…in this case, since it will likely be prospects and maybe 1 MLB player in return.

        If we get a great 3B prospect, we can then trade Suarez for another couple of top prospects. So a Castillo/Suarez deals could turn into like 6 top prospects and/or combination of MLB young risers and top prospects.

        I agree with Doug, no one should EVER be untouchable and don’t just target SS or C if a much better studly CF or 3B or SP or 1B is available. I mean if Guerrero was available and Bichette and Biggio, I’d still want to make sure I got Guerrero even if we have an SS need.

  9. Mason Red

    If the Reds could get Trout for him that would be great. It won’t happen of course but even it did the Reds wouldn’t build around him. He would be a good draw but they still wouldn’t win with Trout. The Angels haven’t either. I think this team will definitely entertain offers for LC and they would make a trade just for prospects. This is a franchise that’s in a continuous rebuilding mode so that kind of move fits into their “plan”. It wouldn’t surprise me to see a fire sale of epic proportions with the Reds saying “We didn’t get the current rebuild right but just wait a few more years!”

    • Colt Holt

      I will caveat…I am not Trouts biggest fan because I despise that people think he is leaps and bounds better than Griffey over the same point in career. That being said. Griffey was lined up to be in conversation to be the greatest cf of all time, but injuries rapidly derailed his career. As easy as it is to dream about having inner circle hall of famers on the reds, if Trout gets the injury bug, that contract could cripple the reds for the next decade.

  10. TR

    Starting pitching is the key to a winning team. Build around Castillo and Gray and trade anybody else if the return is good and/or the farm system has replacements.

  11. matthew hendley

    I understand the message behind this piece, and generally agree. Not active shopping, but certainly not saying no to everything. However,

    The return MUST be insane: Like how did they do it insane. Like give us back your number 3 starter and the top 5 players in your system insane. A trade that makes the Latos trade look small.

    But no he isn’t untouchable.

  12. Mark Burris

    Always good insight with Reds fans, the best baseball minds around. If I’m the Reds, there’s no one on one in baseball to trade for Castillo due to his proven talent, mlb experience and controlability. But what about putting together a four team, nine player deal where the Reds lose Castillo but receive the#1 prospect in 3 select organizations?

  13. Seat101

    This is classic bait and switch.

    They’ll make an impossible demand for Castillo, but then say… While I’ve got you on the phone…

  14. Tom Mitsoff

    Nobody should ever be untouchable. That being said, Doug is right. Trading Castillo would require an offer from another team that you literally cannot turn down. Something like Alex Bregman and Forrest Whitley from Houston.

  15. Roger Garrett

    Pitching wins or keeps you in games but you must be able to score.Nobody should be untouchable unless his contract says he is and it isn’t in Castillo’s case.Teams or at least good ones trade from a position of strength to fill a weakness.I would make the trade Tom mentioned with Houston right now and never look back.

    • LWblogger2

      I think most any of us would make that deal.

  16. Michael E

    As it’s been stated if some team comes knocking with a handful of top prospects and/or good, young MLB future stars, you absolutely consider it.

    If Castillo tunrs in to 2 good young SP prospects, a stud CF and a promising SS or 3B or other, you listen and listen hard.

    I am still bummed at all the missed opportunities to trade because fans/owner/GM fell in love with solid, but obviously not great players that were worth more the Reds if they were traded.

    I like Castillo and Reds have so few SP1s in my lifetime, BUT many games he is still just a 5 or 6 inning pitcher. SPs, much to my chagrin, aren’t quite as valuable as they once were, when Complete Games wasn’t extinct. So, if a Castillo, who goes 6 innings typically every 5 nights, can bring back a couple of crazy high end hitters/players and/or promising top SP prospects, do it.

    Do NOT wait TOO long, as the old injury bug (TJ) could rise up or a strange drop in effectiveness back to SP 2/3, could drop his sky-high value very quickly.

    The best phrase is always strive to MAXIMIZE value. This means, to me, to trade Puig, Roark, Iglesias (should have done it LAST year…sigh) and consider Castillo if you’re blown away with 3 or 4 near-can’t miss prospects.