We’ve already heard about a few teams with interest in the Reds’ starting pitching, and it isn’t surprising that the Yankees are also on that list. According to The Athletic’s Peter Gammons, the Yankees have “talked” with Cincinnati about right-hander Luis Castillo, and Reds scouts have been watching pitching prospect Will Warren (currently throwing for the Yankees’ Double-A affiliate).
Starting pitching would ostensibly not be a major priority for the Bronx Bombers, given how the rotation has been arguably the league’s best over the first three months of the season. Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, Luis Severino, Nestor Cortes, and Jordan Montgomery have all looked excellent, and the rotation as a whole ranks first in baseball in walk rate (5.4%) and strikeout rate (25.4%), and second in cumulative fWAR (7.7) and ERA (3.00).
However, even beyond the “you can never have enough pitching” credo, there is certainly reason for Yankees GM Brian Cashman to be looking to reinforce his staff. Severino tossed only 18 regular-season innings over the course of three injury-riddled seasons from 2019-21, and thus his workload might need to be managed down the stretch. Likewise, Cortes has never thrown more than 119 2/3 combined innings in any pro season, while Taillon has also battled a number of injury problems throughout his career.
While none of Severino, Cortes, Taillon, Cole, or Montgomery have run into any real health issues thus far in 2022, that collective durability could actually be more of a reason for Cashman to proactively seek out another starter. Since it’s very rare to have an entire rotation stay intact throughout a full season, the Yankees could look to add before trouble (inevitably?) strikes, since waiting until a problem arises could decrease New York’s leverage with the Reds or any other team dangling pitching.
Gammons also figures the Yankees will make another attempt to acquire Frankie Montas, after the Yankees engaged the A’s in trade talks back in March. Castillo has also been on New York’s radar in the past, when the Bombers reportedly rejected Cincinnati’s ask of Gleyber Torres and more for Castillo back in January 2021.
The Reds will certainly have another high asking price on Castillo in the coming weeks. The righty is arguably the top pitcher available prior to the August 2 trade deadline, due to both his front-of-the-rotation ability and his contractual status — Castillo isn’t scheduled for free agency until after the 2023 season. He has been more solid than spectacular thus far in 2022, but it could be that Castillo is still ramping up after missing the first month of action due to shoulder soreness.
While Warren certainly wouldn’t be the centerpiece of any Castillo trade package, the 23-year-old righty is already gaining attention in his first year of pro ball. An eighth-round pick for the Yankees in the 2021 draft, Warren is ranked by both Baseball America and MLB Pipeline as the 27th-best prospect in New York’s farm system, and he has a 3.72 ERA over 55 2/3 combined innings at high-A (35 IP) and Double-A (20 2/3 IP) in 2022. His two newest pitches are his best offerings, as the Yankees’ pitching development staff helped Warren turn his slider and two-seamer into plus pitches. It already seems like Warren would be a good fit as a relief pitcher down the road, according to Pipeline’s scouting report, though he might be able to work in a rotation if he can successfully mix his slider and two-seamer with a more average changeup and curveball.