M’s Officially Going For It, Trade for SP Luis Castillo

marc w · July 29, 2022 at 11:41 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Two things can be true: the M’s made a huge move that solves multiple problems, making the team much more formidable in the playoffs. And they probably overpaid a bit. That’s ok. After years of demanding more concrete actions to make the club not just better at the margins, but capital B Better, the front office has done just that. They snagged the clear #1 starter on the block. We can and will get into the return, but you have to like that as a starting point.

While Fangraphs likes the M’s offense due to their home park, they don’t score a lot of runs. Again, the park is part of that, but so is their nature as something of a low-average, boom or bust operation especially after Ty France. So why upgrade the rotation?

Three reasons. First, it lets them stick around in games when the offense isn’t scoring. Think of yesterday’s game, when Logan Gilbert kept the M’s in it, leaving with a tie game. They’re going to need a lot of such games to go their way, and as good as the staff’s been since June, they just acquired a pitcher with a better track record than Robbie Ray.

Second, pitchers like Gilbert and George Kirby are getting very close to innings limits. I don’t know where they are exactly, but Kirby’s never pitched 100 IP before, but is getting perilously close to it now. Will we see a situation where one or both of them get shut down for the playoffs, like Stephen Strasburg was back in 2012? Castillo gives the M’s some breathing room with their young starters, and can help pitch the innings that would go either to Kirbert or someone like Tommy Milone.

Finally, in part because of their offense, the M’s need a pitcher that can win against another ace. Robbie Ray is a good pick-up and is not being paid like a Cy Young winner/perennial favorite, but as we’ve seen, I’m not sure he can do that right now. If the M’s need to get past Houston, I’m not sure Ray is the best in-house option. Now, the choice is clear. Castillo’s the #1.

Castillo sits 97 with two distinct and great fastballs: a straight four seam with a bit of rise, and a devilish, swerving sinker – a pitch which has made him one of the top ground ball pitchers in baseball. But 97 with movement is perhaps not enough, so his true out pitch is a very hard change-up that essentially mirrors the sinker’s movement and arm side run, but comes in around 88-90. This is early-period Felix velo paired with peak-Felix game plan and fastball/cambio tunneling.

There’s an old saying that a trade *should* feel like an overpay, a trade *should* hurt if it’s a fair deal. Can confirm. This hurts. The M’s are sending two players in the top 50 in baseball: top prospect Noelvi Marte, who shrugged off a lousy start and who basically no one can get out in July. Marte is 21, and has been a big time prospect for a few years now.

But why stop at just one shortstop? The M’s are sending Modesto’s SS, Edwin Arroyo, too. Drafted last year out of Puerto Rico, Arroyo is one of the biggest pop-up/rising prospects in the game, blowing away his glove-first scouting report by outhitting Marte at the same level/affiliate a year later. There’s probably more power in Madge’s profile, and more speed and defense in Arroyo’s, but Arroyo’s hitting for solid power himself.

The M’s are also sending SP Levi Stoudt, a solid SP the M’s drafted in 2019. Stoudt’s numbers have backed up at AA, but he’s still a solid prospect, even if he’s behind the guys like Emerson Hancock, Bryce Miller and Taylor Dollard. Finally, the M’s sent RP Andrew Moore (not the former SP), another pop-up guy who’s touched 102 and hits triple digits regularly for Modesto. I was flabbergasted that the M’s sent *both* of their top SS prospects, but when I got over that, this last piece hurt surprisingly much. I think Moore, even at low-A, is not going to need a lot of MiLB seasoning.

Is this too much? It feels like a lot, given Castillo becomes a free agent after 2023. But the M’s solidified their playoff chances and position themselves very well for next year. The fact that they didn’t acquire a bat and don’t really have many in the high minors means it’s now essentially mandatory that they get one (or two) in free agency. They cannot miss; the team is getting good, and this trade shows their willing to go for it. So they need that follow up, a big free agent signing, to make all of this worthwhile.

Could the M’s have offered less? I’m sure they tried. But so many teams had interest, giving Cincinnati all the leverage. I’m surprised a system as deep in SS prospects wanted both of the M’s, but Cincy really went for the best players available, and they got them. I’ve seen Jarred Kelenic’s name in trade rumors, and I think this trade shows that, for all the talent he undeniably has, he doesn’t really have *trade* value. That is, what he adds to a deal isn’t worth the chance he bounces back for Seattle; the risk is essentially all on the M’s side.

This is exhilarating, exciting, and yes, it hurts a bit. Go win, M’s. Welcome, Luis Castillo.


9 Responses to “M’s Officially Going For It, Trade for SP Luis Castillo”

  1. Westside guy on July 30th, 2022 12:48 am

    I’d still like to see a bat come our way. But this seems like a good trade, and it sounds like Dipoto might be thinking Haniger will be enough to solidify the offense.

    Juan Soto was almost certainly not coming to Seattle, no matter how much we drooled over him.

    Whenever I read about these trades, I remind myself that we fans consistently tend to overvalue our own farm system’s prospects.

  2. 3cardmonty on July 30th, 2022 1:37 am

    Agree with the post and the first comment. We still have some chips to play with and I’d like to see them make a run at one of Happ, Laureano, or Reynolds.

  3. globalalpha on July 30th, 2022 7:03 am

    Good that they are bringing in more talent. The team is better for 2022 and 2023. My complaint is that they put themselves into this position of needing to trade away prospects to do so. We entered the season with only 4 proven starting pitchers, and a couple of prospects who might pan out but, even if they do, you KNOW will need to have their innings managed. And that’s even without considering injuries. So the M’s have seen the best-case scenario for their rotation; Kirby steps up, everyone pitches well, no injuries. And yet they still NEED to trade away prospects for another pitcher, because there is no other option and they knowingly put themselves in this situation by not spending more money in the off-season. Yes this was the right move now but only because we failed to address obvious needs in the off-season.

  4. eponymous coward on July 30th, 2022 10:13 am

    I’m not unsympathetic to this, but if I had time traveled back to the day after the 2021 season ended and told you:

    – the M’s are going to be solidly in the 2022 wild card race at the trading deadline,
    – they will have acquired Castillo, Winker and Suarez from the Reds, Adam Frazier from the Padres, signed Robbie Ray as a free agent,
    – Juliooooo, Gilbert and Kirby have worked out about as well as you could wish and are still Mariners,
    – Ty France and Cal Raleigh took steps forward,
    – bullpen is fine and Flexen and Marco are ok in the rotation if not frontline pitchers,

    I would say you would be pretty damned pleased at that outcome.

    Yeah, I’d have liked Marcus Semien and Juan Soto too. We can’t stop here. But all told I think the decisions have been fine. Some haven’t worked out as we would have liked (Winker) but the process was reasonable…

  5. Shizane on July 30th, 2022 10:40 am

    The trade is exciting but i dont like the overpay. If it was castillo + drury for this package, i would like it….feel like 2b is still a gap and would love to send toro down and have frazier off bench.

  6. Westside guy on July 30th, 2022 10:50 pm

    Man, I hope we don’t turn around and lose Julio for any length of time…

  7. Stevemotivateir on July 31st, 2022 9:17 am

    Dipoto noted that he was trying to get Castillo in the offseason. He really seems to stick to his lists of targeted players.

    Regarding bats, I’m not convinced guys like Drury would prove to be an upgrade, especially when you consider career & recent performances. Impact-bats will probably have to come in the offseason.

  8. Shizane on July 31st, 2022 11:18 am

    Drury is better than toro right now and has position flexibility…..very poor man’s kris bryant. Instead, we are calling up a 27 year old career minor leaguer from AA to play RF.

    I doubt it would have cost much more to add him given the overpay for castillo already.

  9. Stevemotivateir on July 31st, 2022 8:30 pm

    ^Drury wouldn’t be replacing Toro, he’d be displacing either Frazier, who has been playing more in line with his career norms the last 3+ weeks, or that career minor-leaguer you mentioned who has hit well and offered speed & defensive flexibility over the last 2 months.

    Then there’s Drury’s road splits.

    Unless Moore’s back issue proves to be serious, I think they’d be better off getting a reliever or two and possibly an alternative for Torrens.

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