The Reds are discussing right-hander Luis Castillo in trade talks with other teams, reports Jon Heyman of MLB Network (Twitter link). He joins Sonny Gray as high-end Cincinnati starters to come up in conversations this winter. The price on both hurlers remains “appropriately high,” Heyman says.
There’s no indication a Castillo deal is close or even especially likely. Teams are constantly in discussions with rival clubs about various players and potential trade frameworks. Most of those talks don’t result in deals; many aren’t publicly reported.
It’s no surprise other teams are calling to gauge Castillo’s potential availability. The 28-year-old has posted a 3.35 ERA/3.42 FIP across 260.2 innings since the start of the 2019 season. Of the 137 starters with at least 100 innings over the last two years, Castillo ranks 20th in park-adjusted ERA. Among that group, he places nineteenth in strikeout rate (29.4%), thirty-first in K% – BB% (19.8 percentage points) and fourth in ground ball rate (56.1%). Only Jacob deGrom, Blake Snell, Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer have gotten swings and misses at a higher clip.
Castillo’s raw stuff supports those results. He’s one of the sport’s hardest-throwing starters, coming off a season in which he averaged a career-high 97.8 MPH on his sinker. He backs that up with an elite changeup and an effective slider. Castillo certainly looks to have cemented himself among the game’s top arms. He’d be a massive upgrade to any team’s rotation.
It has been a difficult offseason for a Reds club obviously looking to scale back payroll. Cincinnati traded Raisel Iglesias to the Angels for a meager return to get most of his $9.125MM salary off the books. They were one of the more aggressive teams to make cuts at the non-tender deadline and have all but ruled out a reunion with Trevor Bauer. There have also been plenty of rumors about a potential move to get Gray’s $10MM salary off the books, although obviously nothing has come together on that front.
Even with the Reds looking to cut costs, there won’t be any urgency to move Castillo. The right-hander is eligible for arbitration for the first of three times this winter and projected for a bargain salary in the $3-5MM range.