CINCINNATI -- A lengthy ovation late Wednesday night at Great American Ball Park may have signaled the end of an era for the Reds. Why? Because as starting pitcher Luis Castillo closed out his most recent outing, he likely put a cap on his six-year tenure in Cincinnati.
Inching closer to Tuesday’s Trade Deadline, Castillo -- known synonymously around the league as “La Piedra” -- is considered the top available starting pitcher on the market, and has piqued the interest of several contenders looking to add one final piece before making their playoff pushes.
Castillo fired seven innings of three-run ball in a 5-3 win over the Marlins, improving to 4-4 on the season, and moving his ERA to 2.86 through 14 starts.
After bouncing around with a few organizations, the Reds received Castillo in a trade with Miami back in 2017, before calling him up to make his debut that same season. Since then, Castillo has tallied 859 strikeouts over nearly 800 innings on the mound, and has represented the organization on multiple NL All-Star teams ('19, ‘22).
“[The Reds] are the team that gave me the opportunity to pitch here, so obviously I would want to be in [their] uniform the rest of my life,” Castillo said after the game via translator. “But baseball is a business so you have to keep going with what you’re told to do.”
The right-hander harnesses an upper-90’s fastball and a plus changeup, but it’s his slider -- which hitters are batting just .167 off of this season -- that has tormented opposing bats the most. On top of that, hitters barrel up Castillo just 4.8% of the time, landing him in the 85th percentile around the league.
Add on the fact that he’s under team control through the end of the next season, and it makes him much more appealing than some of the other short-term options on the market. That being said, Castillo won’t come without a hefty price tag. In return for their flourishing star, Cincinnati will likely seek multiple top-100 prospects.
Here are three teams that could make a move for the 29-year-old over the course of the week:
New York Yankees
Could Castillo find himself in pinstripes during his next start?
Yankees fans certainly wouldn't complain, especially after getting a firsthand look at his effectiveness earlier this month in the Bronx, where he tossed seven innings of one-run ball while holding the league’s most powerful offense to just two hits.
With Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino sidelined on the IL with a right lat strain, the move could add some extra stability. MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand believes the Yankees’ biggest concern is their starting rotation, and Castillo would make sense if they're willing to part with a top prospect.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers are currently without starting pitchers Walker Buehler and Dustin May -- both of whom are expected back this season -- but have still received the best starting pitching in the league with a team ERA of 2.98.
Another quality starter like Castillo may not be the highest of importance given their ailing bullpen, but we often see the rich getting richer this time of year, and that would certainly be the case if the Dodgers were to seal the deal.
Will Los Angeles look to bolster its rotation with the top available arm, or prioritize adding a high-end bat instead?
Boston Red Sox
After limping to the All-Star break and getting swept by the division-rival Blue Jays to start the second half, Boston is in an interesting position -- some could say in Trade Deadline limbo as unclear buyers/sellers.
If the Sox’s playoff aspirations are true, their first call should regard a proven starting pitcher, and Castillo fits the mold.
Boston entered Wednesday ranked No. 24 in the league in team ERA. Michael Wacha has been a pleasant surprise, but Nathan Eovaldi hasn't been able to replicate his 2021 success, Nick Pivetta has been up and down, and with Chris Sale’s return coming to a frustrating end, the right package for Castillo could be the key to a second half resurgence.
Castillo’s familiar three-quarters delivery should remind Red Sox fans of Hall of Fame pitcher Pedro Martinez -- one who Castillo has looked up to from a young age.
Perhaps the Red Sox offer MLB-ready first baseman and No. 2 prospect Tristan Casas.
Will one of those three win the sweepstakes? Or maybe a dark horse team like the Minnesota Twins, Toronto Blue Jays or the Houston Astros puts the league on notice with their acquisition? Or does Castillo remain a Cincinnati Red after all? All will be decided in the coming week.