Trade Packages and Landing Spots for 2019 Cy Young Contender Luis Castillo
The Cincinnati Reds' starting rotation entered play Wednesday with a fifth-ranked 3.76 ERA, in no small part due to ace Luis Castillo.
The 26-year-old is fourth in baseball in ERA (2.41) and has struck out 134 in 112 innings. He's making a credible case for the National League Cy Young Award and is under club control through 2023.
The Reds are in last place in the NL Central and should be in seller mode. According to Jon Paul Morosi of MLB.com, there's a chance Cincinnati would move Castillo for the right gaudy package.
As Morosi put it: "The Reds haven't hung up the phone on teams who have called. They are waiting to be wowed..."
Let's examine five suitors who could wow them before the July 31 trade deadline, and the prospect packages it might take to reel in one of the most exciting young pitchers in the game.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers' staff leads the National League with a 3.40 ERA, and their starting rotation paces the Senior Circuit with a 3.04 ERA. They don't need to add an impact arm.
With that said, they're trying to win their first title since 1988 after two straight World Series defeats. They have a deep farm system, and team president Andrew Friedman is always on the lookout for controllable, high-upside talent.
Acquiring Castillo would probably cost Los Angeles bat-missing right-hander Dustin May (92 strikeouts in 89.1 MiLB innings), who has ascended as high as Triple-A, plus touted Double-A catcher Keibert Ruiz and middle infield prospect Gavin Lux (.996 MiLB OPS), who has also reached Triple-A.
That would gut the top tier of the Dodgers' system. But it would land them the piece that might help them win it all now and stay dominant into the future.
Like the Dodgers, the Houston Astros don't need to make any dramatic trades. They have a comfortable lead in the American League West, a deep lineup, a solid bullpen and a pair of aces in Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole.
However, the allure of Castillo could make them dip into their eighth-ranked farm system.
Any deal would start with outfielder Kyle Tucker, who sipped his cup of coffee in 28 games with the 'Stros last season and has a .923 OPS with 24 homers in 88 games at Triple-A Round Rock this season.
If the Astros throw in hard-throwing right-hander Corbin Martin (45 strikeouts in 37.1 innings at Triple-A), the Reds might bite. That would give the Astros a third ace for their 2019 run and a top-of-the-deck hurler into the future.
New York Yankees
The New York Yankees' starting rotation ranks 12th with a 4.13 ERA and has been without the services of ace Luis Severino (shoulder) for the entire season. If Castillo is available, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman will likely dive for the phone.
Castillo checks the boxes the Yankees seem to covet, including years of controllability. He'll also cost them.
Outfielder Clint Frazier, who posted an .843 OPS in 53 MLB games before he was demoted due to a roster crunch, is an obvious centerpiece for any trade. From there, the Yanks would likely have to toss in toolsy outfielder and top prospect Estevan Florial and hard-throwing righty Jonathan Loaisiga.
The prospect-loving Bronx contingent may balk, but putting Castillo in pinstripes would markedly improve the Yankees' chances for title No. 28, and he'd be around for a while.
The Atlanta Braves are on pace to win their second straight NL East title. But to make a deep playoff run, they need to boost a rotation that ranks 14th with a 4.42 ERA despite the addition of free-agent lefty Dallas Keuchel.
A rental such as the San Francisco Giants' Madison Bumgarner is one route. Conversely, the Braves could leverage their No. 2-ranked farm system and go for Castillo.
To land him, Atlanta could offer up emerging 20-year-old outfielder Cristian Pache, who has an .853 OPS at Double-A, as well as right-hander Ian Anderson, who has struck out 119 in 92.2 innings at the same level.
It's a lot to surrender, but Castillo would more than replace Anderson, and the Braves' outfield depth chart already features explosive youngsters Austin Riley and Ronald Acuna Jr.
San Diego Padres
The San Diego Padres are hanging on the fringe of the NL wild-card race and are most likely playing for next season and beyond.
The Friars should eschew any rentals, but Castillo is in their wheelhouse. He's a controllable arm just entering his prime who could see his numbers soar in the pitcher-friendly confines of Petco Park.
The Padres could construct an offer around slugging outfielder Hunter Renfroe, whose fence-clearing talents may be better suited for Cincinnati's hitter-happy Great American Ball Park, and add Luis Urias, who's blocked on the left side of San Diego's infield by Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr.
They may also have to toss in a pitcher such as 19-year-old Luis Patino (89 strikeouts in 67.1 innings at High-A), but it would be worth it for a fast-climbing Padres franchise.
All statistics current as of Wednesday and courtesy of Baseball Reference.