If you’ve been watching the Minnesota Twins, even on occasion this season, chances are you’ve seen their need for better pitching. Johan Santana’s not stepping on the mound any time soon, and despite pitchers being the best athletes, Bert Blyleven’s days are long gone. Instead they could turn to Luis Castillo via the trade market, pilfering the top starting pitcher from the Cincinnati Reds.
The Twins already negotiated a trade with Cincinnati’s front office, when they sent their 2021 first-round pick Chase Petty to the Reds in order to acquire Sonny Gray, who’s been a staple at the front of the rotation. But with the Reds slipping into darkness, Castillo could become available too.
Entering the final year of his contract, Castillo is arbitration eligible in 2023 before becoming a free agent in 2024. This would give the Twins, or any other team, a year and a half of team control, which is more than enough to determine whether a long-term contract is worth pursuing.
Here’s how a potential Luis Castillo trade to the Twins could work out this summer.
Potential cost of a Luis Castillo-Minnesota Twins trade
- Minnesota Twins trade: Austin Martin, Bailey Ober, Matt Wallner, Jordan Balazovic
- Cincinnati Reds trade: Luis Castillo
In order to acquire a player of Castillo’s caliber, the Twins will have to part with some of their top prospects. To make this deal happen, they part with outfielder/second baseman Austin Martin, their No. 2 rated prospect according to MLB.com. They also lose top pitching prospect Jordan Balazovic (No. 3 in Twins’ top 30). As a sweetener, they lose their 8th-rated prospect and Futures game participant Matt Wallner. Bailey Ober gives the Reds an immediate replacement for Castillo in the Reds’ starting lineup and a pitcher who should slot in as a fourth or fifth starter in a rotation.
- Luis Castillo contract: $7.35 million salary (2022), arbitration-eligible in 2023
It’s a large price to pay for a player who may only be in a Twins uniform for a season and a half, but Castillo will have a lot of trade suitors as one of the best arms available. The Twins won’t be able to pry him away with a lowball offer to Cincinnati, but I’m willing to admit, this is likely too rich for my blood. It’s possible a package that doesn’t also include Ober and Wallner could be enough to get the deal done. We used the baseballtradevalues trade sim, and sometimes things can get a bit out of whack.
Then again, Castillo is a two-time All-Star who’s still just 29. Players of his ability don’t come around often. If the Twins are serious about making a push, making a large trade should absolutely be on the table. It might even help convince Carlos Correa to sign a true extension that ensures he’ll be a Twin for longer than just one season.
How Luis Castillo fits into Minnesota Twins rotation
In the long run, the Minnesota Twins’ starting rotation isn’t as bad as some fans think. At the top, you have Kenta Maeda, who’s making progress in his return from Tommy John surgery, but might not be able to return to the starting rotation this season. If he returns at all, which it looks like he will, it will likely be in the bullpen, at least to begin with. Basically, Maeda can’t be penciled in at the top of the rotation since he’s not there now and may not be at all this season.
Still, after Maeda’s eventual return as the staff ace, there’s Joe Ryan, a formidable No. 2 starter. Then, Sonny Gray takes the rubber as the third starter, who’s good enough to emerge from a playoff matchup with a win. Then there’s anyone from Bailey Ober, Devin Smeltzer, Josh Winder, Chris Archer, or Dylan Bundy.
The fact that we can even name five people for the final two slots is a problem. With Maeda unable to be relied on down the stretch for October of 2022, if the Twins want to do real damage, Luis Castillo would be a strong addition. But where would he fit into the starting rotation at Target Field?
- Luis Castillo stats (2022): 2.77 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, .199 BAA, 25.6% K rate
Just as he did with the Reds, Castillo would likely slot in just ahead of Sonny Gray, but he’s actually likely to be the staff ace until Maeda can return to top form. Come playoff time, this would be a major boost.
Even if everyone is confident in Joe Ryan’s abilities, he’s never started a game in October. How will he respond should he be asked to take the mound against the Yankees in Game 1? Twins fans have seen this one all too often. Having an established vet set the tone could work wonders for an impressionable ballclub, and that’s why acquiring a pitcher such as Castillo is worth the cost.