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Evaluating 3 ideal Luis Castillo trade destinations

Luis Castillo trade
David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Luis Castillo is being floated in MLB trade rumors heavily this month as one of the most coveted arms available. With Cincinnati in a rebuild, Castillo should be on the move and there are several potential landing spots for him.

Castillo is an ideal trade target for a variety of reasons. First, the 29-year-old is under contract through the 2023 season and he’s due just under half the remainder of his $7.35 million salary this year. A cost-controlled starter with 1.5 seasons of control means teams aren’t overpaying for just a handful of starts.

Evaluators likely also feel confident a change of scenery will get even more out of Castillo. The changeup hasn’t been as good this season, but several coaching staffs on playoff contenders have a history of helping newly-acquired pitchers improve.

One other factor to consider, getting the righty out of Great American Ballpark will be a bonus. The Reds’ stadium is the most hitter-friendly park over the last three seasons. Anywhere else he lands, whether it’s Yankee Stadium, Busch Stadium or another venue, would be an improvement.

Let’s examine the best landing spots for a Luis Castillo trade and what it may cost each team to land him.

Toronto Blue Jays acquire Luis Castillo

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at Toronto Blue Jays
Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Blue Jays acquired José Berrīos on July 30, 2021 to fortify the top of their rotation. A year later, the club once again finds itself in need of help. Berríos is stuck in a down year and with Hyun-Jin Ryu lost for the season, Toronto must find someone to plug in behind Kevin Gausman and Alex Manoah.

  • Toronto Blue Jays trade: Jordan Groshans, Nate Pearson, Sem Robberse
  • Cincinnati Reds trade: Luis Castillo

One important factor for the Blue Jays is the limited pool of players they can target. Reds’ starter Tyler Mahle is appealing, but he is unvaccinated and couldn’t pitch in Toronto. Because Castillo already pitched this season in Canada, he is in the clear.

In terms of the adjustment in the ballpark, going from GABP (113 Park Factor) to the Rogers Centre (103 Park Factor) is an improvement on its own. Furthermore, Castillo (48.3% groundball rate) would have an infield defense behind him featuring Santiago Espinal (6 Defensive Runs Saved, 4.9 Def) and Matt Chapman (3 Defensive Runs Saved, 1.0 Def). Once again, an improvement over his current situation.

As for the return, the Blue Jays’ wealth of infield talent makes Jordan Groshans a talent worth including for 1.5 seasons of a front-line starter. Nate Pearson, once a top pitching prospect, comes with too many injury concerns for Toronto to bet on but he could be a buy-low target for Cincinnati.

St. Louis Cardinals rotation stabilized with front-line starter

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at St. Louis Cardinals
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

It’s evident the St. Louis Cardinals have a type. Dakota Hudson (55.1% groundball rate), Adam Wainwright (45.9% GB rate) and Miles Mikolas (43.5% GB rate) are among the leaders in generating groundballs. If lowering the threshold to 50-plus innings, Castillo would also join the top-25 leaders.

It’s an important box for the righty to check and is one of the reasons why he likely is a Cardinals’ pitching target. While his reliance on the changeup (26.9% of pitches thrown) strays a bit from St. Louis (8.7%, 29th in MLB) that can add variety to the rotation.

  • St. Louis Cardinals trade: Matthew Liberatore, Alec Burleson, Ian Bedell
  • Cincinnati Reds trade: Luis Castillo

Trading Matthew Liberatore, the Cardinals’ top pitching prospect, might seem like an overpay to some. While he is the highest-rated arm in the system, St. Louis is deep with young arms and there are risers who offer more upside. Plus, St. Louis could justify the cost by signing Castillo to an extension.

The opportunity to have an infield defense of Paul Goldschmidt, Tommy Edman and Nolan Arenado would make life easier for Castillo. History also proves the Cardinals’ coaching staff is more than capable at helping hurlers perform at their peak levels. A rotation with Castillo, Wainwright and Mikolas can work in October.

New York Yankees add to wealth of talent with Luis Castillo

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at Chicago Cubs
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

On the surface, the New York Yankees rotation might not seem like it needs any real help. The starters will head into July with the second-lowest ERA (3.15) in the majors. However, Brian Cashman is reportedly going to make a push for either Castillo or Frankie Montas. Considering they’ve already talked to the Reds, this landing spot fits.

  • New York Yankees trade: Jasson Dominguez, Clarke Schmidt, Miguel Andujar, Luis Medina
  • Cincinnati Reds trade: Luis Castillo

Jasson Dominguez is adored by many in the fan base, viewed as the next MLB superstar. The truth is a lot of that is stemming from the hype that existed right after he signed. The teenage outfielder shows some impressive tools, but there’s nothing right now to suggest he’ll become an elite player. Years away from even having a shot at the majors, a win-now move makes sense.

This is the team Castillo should want to be playing for down the stretch. New York’s front office constructed one of the best infield defenses in baseball. While the short porches at Yankee Stadium will lead to a few more home runs, data also shows the Yankees’ organization is among the best in MLB at helping pitchers after it acquires them. A playoff rotation with Cole, Castillo, Nestor Cortes and either Luis Severino or Jameson Taillon.