Luis Castillo has been the next hot name on New York Yankees radar after they signed IF DJ LeMahieu and SP Corey Kluber. With no World Series rings in the past decade, the Yankees are looking to end their drought quickly. Arguably, they had their best teams of the last decade in ’19 and ’20, but they fell short mainly due to injuries. Still, GM Brian Cashman has remained in spending mode, so he must believe that manager Aaron Boone and the Yankees are just a piece away. Castillo has been a top-tier pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds and could be the piece that the Yankees are looking for.
Though trade talks have stalled, for now, it is still worth evaluating if Cashman should try and pull the trigger.
2018: 169.2 IP, 10-12, 4.30 ERA, 165 K, 1.220 WHIP
2019: 190.2 IP, 15-8, 3.40 ERA, 226 K, 1.143 WHIP, All-Star
2020: 70.0 IP, 4-6, 3.21 ERA, 89 K, 1.229 WHIP
Current Contract: 1-year, $4.2 million, Arb. eligible in ’22,’23
Where does Castillo fit?
With starters Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, and J.A. Happ all gone, the Yankees’ rotation is not so secure. Gerrit Cole is obviously the ace, but it gets shaky behind him. Luis Severino is risky coming off multiple injuries and Father Time is starting to catch up with Kluber. For now, Deivi Garcia, Jordan Montgomery, Clarke Schmidt, along with a few others are competing for the last two spots. But if they can get him, Castillo would be fit nicely at the two spots as a safe, secure option.
What would the Yankees give up/get along with Castillo?
Perhaps most intriguingly, the Yankees have many directions they can take this trade. First, let us establish which Yankees players are 100% not on the table: OF Aaron Judge, IF Gleyber Torres, IF DJ LeMahieu, SP Gerrit Cole, OF Jasson “The Martian” Dominguez. Now, here are a couple of trade packages that the Yankees could propose:
The “we have a lot of money” trade:
Yankees get: SP Luis Castillo, 3B Mike Moustakas
In this scenario, the Yankees take on Moustakas ugly contract after he disappointed last year, while only being forced to give up one prospect. They would also find better homes for Andujar and Frazier, who both have generous contracts and could start for the Reds immediately.
The “destroy our farm system but try to win now” trade:
Yankees get: SP Luis Castillo, RP Amir Garrett,
Should the Reds be unwilling to cut ties with Castillo, the Yankees can offer several high-profile prospects to change their minds. In exchange for turning into an AL favorite, the Yankees would be getting rid of some of the best players in their organization, including last year’s promising rookie Deivi Garcia.
The “blockbuster that likely won’t happen” trade:
I’m just having a bit of fun with this one. After the Yankees took yet another big-money contract this offseason, they could be looking to dish Stanton, especially considering Torres and Judge both need to be payed soon. In return, they’d get two great pitchers and one slightly unfavorable contract in Castellanos. While they’d still be a top competitor, they’d be securing their future better than in the other two trades.
Are there any other options?
Yes, but they are not as good. Disregarding Trevor Bauer, who will likely demand Cole-esque money that the Yankees cannot afford, there a few players to look at.
First, bringing Tanaka back is not completely out of the picture, and the Yankees have remained in contact. But he could be looking for a multi-year deal, which the Yankees would not want to give him.
Jake Odorizzi and Garrett Richards are two intriguing options. While they too may be looking for longer contracts, they could also take 1-year “prove it” deals while they still have a good few years remaining in the league. They may also be looking to contribute on a World Series-winning team before it’s too late.
Finally, the best option is to target 28 year-old Taijuan Walker. Walker had a solid year in 2020, even though he fell off a bit after being traded from the Mariners to the Blue Jays. He is also young enough for Cashman to feel comfortable giving him a multi-year deal.
Would it be great if the Yankees could acquire Castillo? Absolutely. But the price is steep and he could be a bit too expensive to release from the Reds’ latches. I do believe Cashman should try to make this trade. But if he is unsuccessful, I will not be upset. There are too many good players in the lineup and throughout the organization to not believe the Yankees are already contenders, so I am satisfied.