Suárez, Winker excited to be reunited with Castillo

August 2nd, 2022

This story was excerpted from Daniel Kramer's Mariners Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

NEW YORK -- Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suárez had been lobbying Jerry Dipoto for weeks, urging the Mariners’ president of baseball operations to make a bold trade for starting pitcher Luis Castillo, their former Reds teammate, who they asserted could catapult Seattle into serious playoff contenders.

And on Monday, their wishes culminated with the trio that spent 2017-21 together with Cincinnati being reunited at Yankee Stadium.

“We've been in constant communication,” Castillo said through team interpreter Freddy Llanos. “They've been helping me out a lot and seeing what I can expect from Seattle. But yeah, like any other teammates, they just kind of roped me in to tell me how Seattle is.”

There was palpable excitement from Winker and Suárez when speaking about Castillo, and it went far beyond the on-field accolades, which have been off the charts. Castillo is having a career year, with a 2.86 ERA and a 158 ERA+ (league average is 100) while holding hitters to a .201/.274/.318 (.592 OPS) slash line across 14 starts, leading to his second All-Star selection. He’s been even better over his past five outings, with a 1.59 ERA and opposing slash of .187/.254/.293 (.546 OPS).

“He’s another ace to a pitching staff that has aces in it already,” Winker said. “So, it’s exciting. I’m happy I haven’t had to face him. He’s outstanding. He cares a lot and he cares a lot about winning. Every fifth day when he takes the ball, you feel very good playing behind him. There have been a lot of big moments. Really, every time he takes the ball, it’s just fun. It’s Castillo Day. And it’s a good time. It’s a good vibe. He brings a lot of great energy, positive energy. And he wants to win.”

Yet Winker and Suárez also praised Castillo as a person and teammate, vital components within a Seattle clubhouse that is incredibly close and loyal.

“He’s an incredible teammate,” Winker said. “He’s the best. I’m so pumped. He’s an outstanding pitcher and an even better human being.”

And Suárez, to ROOT Sports over the weekend: “I was so happy. In the last inning, everybody knew that we just got Luis. I just told everybody that he’s one of the best teammates that I’ve ever had. Good guy. Good person. Good dad. And he’s one of the best pitchers in the game right now, so I was so happy. I told everybody that they’re going to love him, the way he’s pitching, the way he prepares, the way he is. I’m so happy right now to be with him in the same clubhouse, and I know he’s going to love this team.”

Teammates praise each other to the media regularly, but the tone in their voices suggested a lot of authenticity and admiration that went far beyond the cliché. The Mariners knew they were getting one of the best starting pitchers in the game when they made the bold move to deal three of their top prospects (four total) for Castillo, but -- based on the character assessments of Winker and Suárez -- it sounds like they’re also getting a high-quality teammate for this second-half postseason push.