Some say the Dodgers don’t need a starting pitcher, but can you really ever have enough quality rotation arms? I say no, so here’s a trade profile on the best starter available — the Reds’ Luis Castillo.
It’s been a minute since the Dodgers and Reds have hooked up on a significant trade. Castillo’s name has been bandied about in trade rumors more this year than in years past because he’s creeping ever closer to free agency (after the 2023 season).
Castillo, 29, is enjoying a bit of a bounce-back from an up-and-down 2021 campaign. He has a 2.77 ERA, 3.03 FIP and a strong 17.1 K-BB%. He’s unlike any (healthy) starting pitcher the Dodgers currently employ. He’s armed with a high-90s fastball, a high-90s sinker, a high-80s changeup and mid-80s slider. He’s surprisingly balanced when it comes to pitch usage:
- 4-seam: 31.5%
- Changeup: 26.1%
- Sinker: 21.5%
- Slider: 20.9%
He has sub-.200 batting averages against on all but his sinker, which is at an ugly .304. If wOBA is more your jam, his 4-seam wOBA is .216, slider .219 and changeup .256. His sinker is .354.
In fact, his sinker looks like his worst offering at limiting exit velocity, getting whiffs and overall effectiveness despite doing things like this.
Luis Castillo, Wicked 99mph Two Seamer…with 20 inches of Run. 🤢 pic.twitter.com/lbLCzOMYwo— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 15, 2022
Where Castillo struggles a bit is with command/control and exit velocity against. You can see in that second clip that he’s able to get a ton of movement on his pitches, and sometimes, that can be a bit difficult to command. As for limiting exit velo, luckily, that is a teachable skill — the Dodgers do it better than anyone.
The Reds don’t really have a reliever who would help the Dodgers immensely this season, so I’ll turn my attention to Brandon Drury (IF/OF) and Tommy Pham (OF) as potential pairings with Castillo. They’ve also had interest in Nick Senzel in the past, but he seems a bit lost at this point.
To CIN: Jacob Amaya, Andy Pages, Ryan Pepiot
To LA: Castillo
Pepiot would give the Reds a starter to plug into the rotation straight away, while Pages could take over right field as early as 2023. Amaya would give them a solution at shortstop (so they can stop playing old friend Kyle Farmer there) before their top prospect, Elly De La Cruz, is ready in a couple years (and he might outgrow the position anyway). You could sub in a guy like Jorbit Vivas for Amaya and still have a similar outcome to this deal.
To CIN: Caleb Ferguson, Andre Jackson, Gavin Stone, Miguel Vargas
To LA: Castillo, Brandon Drury, Mike Siani
This would be a bit more “quantity over quality” for the Reds, but they’d still be getting some quality prospects, led by Vargas, who could help anchor their lineup over the next half-decade. If the Reds preferred Pages, he could be swapped in for Vargas. Stone would be a sneaky good get here, as his stuff is improving and could be MLB-ready as next season. Ferguson could be a change-of-scenery candidate and go right into the Reds’ bullpen, while Jackson could slide into their rotation as a fastball-changeup guy.
Drury, 29, is the midst of a career-year (.278/.336/.528, 134 wRC+) and, while he doesn’t provide a lot on the defensive side, he is versatile. He’d help bolster the bench, which should also get stronger once Chris Taylor returns. Siani would give the Dodgers a little outfield depth at the upper minors.
To CIN: Maddux Bruns, Michael Busch, Landon Knack, Eddys Leonard
To LA: Castillo, Tommy Pham
The Reds have already traded for one 2021 1st-round prep pitcher (Chase Petty), so why not another one in Bruns? Busch could probably come up in a month or so and learn from Joey Votto. Knack is a bit of a higher risk return for the Reds, but he could also boom with his stuff and ability to miss bats. Leonard would give them a solid utility player who’s having a slightly down season after a breakout 2021. Pham would give the Dodgers some more depth off the bench, and he might be better in a more limited role anyone — in other words, he might end up being healthier.
This one isn’t a real proposal from me, but if the Reds and Dodgers wanted to do a 1-for-1, a Castillo-for-Gavin Lux deal wouldn’t be the craziest thing in the world. LA would be trading 4-plus years of Lux for 2-plus years of Castillo, if you want to look at it that way. I’m not sure Andrew Friedman would be willing to do that, but it’s similar value.
With the lingering possibility of Soto being dealt, I’m sure the Dodgers would wait for that to resolve before moving to another trade targets. However, if there’s any team out there that could land Soto and Castillo, it’d be the Dodgers.