Luis Castillo to LA?

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The Dodgers have been linked to trading for Luis Castillo of the Reds. So we’re going to breakdown what Castillo has done so far, his arsenal, what a trade might look like, and why the Dodgers and the Reds make great trade partners.

Highlights

  • Castillo Career
  • Castillo Arsenal
  • Our Trade Proposal and Why
  • Other Players of Interest for both teams
  • Conclusion
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Castillo’s Career

The All Star pitcher will be entering his age 28 and 5th major league season. In that time Castillo has started 90 games going 32-33 with a 3.62 ERA and a very respectable 9.1 WAR.

His first season came as a 24 year old halfway through the year. He pitched 15 starts that year sadly going 3-7 despite his 3.12 ERA, 1.075 WHIP, and overall 44% above average ERA performance in 89+ innings. He finished 8th in ROY voting, the year Cody Bellinger won.

There were big expectations for his first full season in 2018, but he would ultimately disappoint despite the improvements he showed in his control. He regressed to a career low 4.30 ERA in his second year going a full 31 starts. But he bounced back in 2019 putting it all together for his first All Star nod as a 26 year old.

He went back to trusting his stuff and taking the few extra walks, for way more strikeouts. A career high 10.7K/9IP. He almost pitched to his rookie performance with a 3.40 ERA in another full campaign of 32 starts.

Finally, 2020 saw him take yet another step forward as he even ticked up his velocity on his entire arsenal. In by far his best career year, Castillo may have been the most underrated ace of the year. His statcast numbers showed almost no weakness.

His FIP was a full run lower than ever before. His ERA lowered to 3.21, 48% better than average. He cut his home run rate by almost half. His walk rate flirted with career lows, while his strikeout rate set a career high. He produced 1.0 WAR in his 12 starts, once again with a losing record thanks to the Reds.

Castillo’s Arsenal

Luis relies on 4 pitches. Two off speed, two fastballs. First up are the offerings he prefers to throw to Lefties. (Which also happened to be his two most used pitches because teams stack lefties against him)

  • Changeup, 30%, 88.2 MPH

He threw his change up 30% of the time last year, as the most frequent of his pitches. It still averaged 88.2 MPH, so the word changeup is used lightly. He loves to use it (and his 4-seam) against lefties in particular. It saw good results in 2020, but it saw ELITE results in every year of his career. We’ll attribute the mediocre looking stats of 2020 to the small sample size.

It was his best strikeout pitch against lefties due to batters whiffing 40% of the time. Even when batters did make contact, the hard hit rate against the change was better than any of his other pitches. Overall, he may have one of the best changeups in the game. Surprising considering it’s not due to elite movement.

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  • 4-Seam Fastball, 27.1%, 97.4 MPH

Like every pitcher, Castillo features a 4-seam fastball. He averages a scary 97.4 MPH on it, and it clearly is the reason his off speed pitches see such fantastic results. Batters actually performed far better than they were expected to against it, which is probably where the unluckiness came into Castillo’s season.

The pitch drops less than a normal 4-seam, and has above average horizontal movement which actually gives the pitch a rising away action late on the break. The spin rate isn’t fantastic, but it gets the job done. Like we said before, he prefers to throw it against lefties.

Now the pitches he likes to throw to right handers.

  • Sinker, 25.2%, 97.4 MPH

His sinker was his worst pitch in 2020. Batters only whiffed 13% of the time, about a 3rd of the whiffs he got with his other pitches. Batters didn’t hit it quite as hard as his fastball, but the overall contact against it was much better. It breaks slightly above average, although the spin rate is slightly low. Granted he improved from the year before, so there is still room for growth.

Still, it’s a bullet and worth keeping in the arsenal, just maybe slightly less. Or maybe he’ll have better luck throwing it against lefties. If he misses with righties it will typically be over the plate.

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  • Slider, 17.7%, 86.8 MPH

Finally, he uses his slider as his best putaway pitch. Batters whiff 43.4% of the time, wracking up 38.2% of his K’s. It was his putaway pitch 1 in 3 times. It has the best actual and expected stats of all his pitches. It’s spin rate is much higher than the rest of his arsenal.

We want to see more of the slider from Castillo. He shouldn’t look at it as only a putaway pitch, but maybe as a high leverage pitch. We’d love to see him break it out on 1-0, 1-1, and 2-1 counts next year.

Our Trade Proposal

Dodgers Send:

  • Josiah Gray (1st)
  • RHP, Gerardo Carrillo (16th)
  • 2B/SS, Omar Estevez, (21st)
  • PTBN

Reds Send:

  • RHP, Luis Castillo
  • 3B, Eugenio Suarez
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Why This Trade Works

  • For the Reds

First off, MONEY. Castillo is only getting pricier from his $4.4 Mil price tag for 2021, and Suarez is still guaranteed $11 million a year until 2024. Overall, the Reds would be shedding possibly close to $90 million in total payroll and contracts going to 2024.

The Reds get to reunite with their biggest mistake in recent years, Josiah Gray. The now top rated pitching prospect is obviously the top return as he’s ready for a rookie campaign with future ace written all over him.

Carrillo is a flamethrowing reliever that could become a sensation in the Reds pen as Chapman once did. Omar Estevez is an infield depth replacement piece that hits for a high average. The very thing that plague last year’s Reds from true success.

  • For the Dodgers

As much as the loss of Gray stings for Dodger fans, we have an embarrassing amount of RHP prospect talent to go with our already top rated pitching staff. In return the Dodgers get a guaranteed Ace until 2024 for arbitration prices.

Carrillo and Estevez will also be missed, but could thrive in an organization with more room for prospects of their caliber.

As for Suarez, we have to assume last year was an outlier for below average production. His power was still there, but he lost his consistency. But even with a .202 BA, Suarez had a positive OPS+ and an actual OPS of .781 thanks to 15 homers in only 198 ABs. Considering Suarez has always been strikeout prone but still a .261 career hitter, we’ll consider it the 2020 effect.

He naturally fits the Dodgers needs right now, and may give them flexibility for the future. He’s only a year removed from his career high 49 homers. If anything, it’ll be hard for the Reds to give him up.

Other Players To Watch

But if not necessarily the players above, the Dodgers and Reds have several players that could make a combination that is a win-win for both squads. Here are the names that matter that we were looking at.

Dodgers

  • OF, AJ Pollock
  • C/2B, Austin Barnes
  • 3B, Kody Hoese
  • 2B/1B, Michael Busch
  • C, Keibert Ruiz
  • RHP, Mitch White
  • 2B/SS, Jacob Amaya
  • 3B, Miguel Vargas
  • RHP, Jimmy Lewis
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Reds

  • OF, Nick Castellanos
  • 3B/OF, Nick Senzel
  • RHP, Sonny Gray
  • LHP, Wade Miley
  • 2B/3B, Mike Moustakas
  • C/1B/3B/OF, Kyle Farmer
  • RHP, Lucas Sims

Conclusion

The NL Central will be a race to finishing over .500, mixed with the crapshoot of the playoffs that GM’s and executives like to play. It’s not about being the best team, it could be about being the luckiest team when it matters. That’s the Reds this upcoming year as they hope for their talent to rebound. Plus, freeing up payroll and roster spots could mean bargain improvements in a special year like this.

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The Dodgers need to start thinking about the near future as most of their World Series talent will be demanding veteran money soon. Taking on Suarez and Castillo can both prove to be a long term bargain based on their return. Meanwhile, the Dodgers counter the Padres with the addition of one the best pitchers in the NL with one of the strongest 3rd baseman in the game.

If not this trade exactly, few teams match as well as far as needs and plethoras as these two MLB teams do. Considering this wouldn’t be the first blockbuster trade between the two offices, we expect the rumors between the Reds and the Dodgers to be serious.

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