By: Noah Wright
Luis Castillo broke into the league back in 2017 as a 24 year old with the Cincinnati Reds. He immediately looked like an ace in his first rookie year. In just 89 and a third innings, Castillo turned in a 3.12 ERA, 3.74 FIP, and 1.075 WHIP. That also came with a strong 9.9 K/9 rate, and 3.2 BB/9 rate. Although he suffered from a sophomore slump in 2019, Castillo looks to be back on track for that ace status. This season, Castillo has a 2.56 ERA, 3.71 FIP, and 1.172 WHIP through 91 and a third innings. Although he is leading the league in walks, he has a league leading 5.4 H/9 and a 10.7 K/9. His ground ball % is also at an elite 55.3%. But before becoming the Reds’ ace, he was part of 2 different teams, and almost a third. Castillo was part of 2, and nearly a third trade, all of which the team he was traded from looked stupid.
The first trade was when he was sent to the Giants to the Marlins. Castillo was originally signed by the Giants as an amateur free agent on December 23rd, 2011. Almost 3 years later on the date (December 20th, 2014), Castillo, along with Kendrys Flores was sent to the Marlins for Casey Mcgehee. But something of note, Luis Castillo was not originally a starter. He was sent to the Marlins as a minor league closer. Regardless, he was sent for corner infielder McGhee. After the Giants lost Pablo Sandoval to the Red Sox in free agency, the Giants needed to fill third base. The McGehee was coming off a comeback season with the Marlins after 3 years spent in Japan. Through 691 PA’s, McGhee had a .287/.355/.357 line, a 101 OPS+, and 104 wRC+. The trade turned out to be a flop for the Giants. McGehee played just 49 games with the Giants, posting a .213/.275/.299 line, and was then released where he was resigned by the Marlins, released by the Marlins, and then signed by the Tigers. McGhee hasn’t played an MLB game since 2016.
The next trade Castillo was a part of was when the Marlins sent Castillo, along with Josh Naylor, and Carter Capps to the Padres for Andrew Cashner, Colin Rea, and Tayron Guerrero. At this point, Castillo looked like a solid minor leaguer. Although he was in AA, Castillo looked like a future big leaguer. But in a twist, the Marlins decided to trade Rea back to the Padres for Castillo, giving them almost like a second chance to keep Castillo.
Now we get to the trade that sent Luis to the Reds. On January 19, 2017, the Reds acquired Castillo, Zeek White, and Austin Brice for Dan Straily. While Straily was coming off a solid season, it was nothing special. Even though his ERA was 3.76, his FIP was 4.88. Although he was in a pitcher friendly park, his HR/9 was 1.5, and his ground ball percentage was just 32%. Needless to say, the Reds have easily won the trade. Straily looked horrible for the Marlins. His 2 seasons in Miami saw Straily have a combined 4.20 ERA, 4.79 FIP, and 1.299 WHIP. After spring training this past season, Straily was released by the Marlins.
Castillo might be the Reds’ ace, but he was almost the Giants, Marlins, or Padres top starter. But after multiple bad trades, he wound up in Cincy. The trade that got Castillo to Cincy might also go down as one of the team’s most underrated trades ever, considering that he’s a near all-star, and the trade is kind of overlooked on the Reds part.