CINCINNATI -- The Reds went with a buy-low, sell-high move with starting pitcher Dan Straily. On Thursday, they traded Straily to the Marlins for right-handed pitching prospects Luis Castillo and Austin Brice and outfielder Isaiah White. Cincinnati also designated outfielder Steve Selsky for assignment.
According to MLBPipeline.com, Castillo was Miami's fifth-rated prospect, while Brice was ninth and White ranked 16th. Talks on the deal first began in November during the General Managers Meetings.
"I really didn't think at the time it was something we would end up doing," Reds general manager Dick Williams said. "It was over the course of a couple of months that they came back around and asked a couple of times here and there. I sensed that their interest was increasing over time, and we got more serious over about the last week or two."
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A waiver claim from the Padres just before Opening Day, Straily was 14-8 with a 3.76 ERA in 34 games -- including 31 starts -- with 191 1/3 innings pitched. He led the pitching staff in wins, innings and strikeouts (162). After the season, Straily was voted as the Reds' pitcher of the year in local awards.
Straily, 28, also co-led the National League with 31 home runs allowed (tied with Max Scherzer), with 24 being solo shots. He should have better results pitching in a bigger space like Marlins Park, but he will need a strong defense behind him like he had in Cincinnati.
Clearly, Straily's value was at its peak -- especially with four years of club control remaining before free agency -- and the Reds decided to take a risk and deal him. In recent years, the club was criticized for holding on to a player too long and moving him after his value declined. Closer Albertin Chapman and third baseman Todd Frazier were two such examples in 2015 before they were dealt last offseason.
"It was a very tough decision, given what Dan did for this club last year," Williams said. "He really stepped up for us. But you really have to make decisions with the long term in mind. I am committed to bringing us back to championship baseball. And you've got to take risks. We thought this was an opportunity to trade someone who had built up a lot of value last year and could bring us back some impact talent that we just couldn't pass on."
Although Straily put together a strong 2016 season and was considered a good teammate and clubhouse presence, some could view him as a candidate for regression based on his track record. Before he went to the Reds, he was 13-13 with a 4.60 ERA in 52 games (45 starts) with the A's, Cubs and Astros.
Williams was able to take a pitcher the Reds got for nothing and flip him for three prospects.
"Very much in the beginning, we identified some of these guys as guys we were absolutely targeting," Williams said. "We made it clear that we wouldn't go forward if we couldn't get access to those guys. Over time, they became available to us in the deal. They were not at first."
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Castillo, 24, is a hard thrower with a fastball capable of reaching triple digits. He split last season between Class A Advanced and Double-A, going 8-6 with a 2.26 ERA, 25 walks, 103 strikeouts and a 1.00 WHIP over 131 2/3 innings in 26 games (24 starts).
"He didn't have a lot of time in Double-A, so that is something that could be in the cards, but he could be a guy that moves quicker than that," Williams said. "He certainly has the arsenal to support moving quickly up the ladder."
Brice, 24, made his big league debut last season for the Marlins and posted a 7.07 ERA in 15 relief appearances covering 14 innings. Combined at Double-A and Triple-A during 2016, he was 4-7 with a 2.74 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP in 32 games (13 starts).
"We think he will very much be in the competition, probably, for the big league bullpen this year. He has started and relieved and done both well," Williams said.
White, who turned 20 on Jan. 7, was a third-round pick of the Marlins in the 2015 Draft. He batted .214/.306/.301 in 51 games in Class A Short-Season last season.
Without Straily, the Reds now have two openings in their rotation. They will need someone with the righty's ability to work deep in games. Young pitchers like Robert Stephenson, Cody Reed, Amir Garrett and Tim Adleman will be candidates, but the club will continue to look for a veteran free-agent starter as well.
"I would feel better about having someone else in the mix, from an innings perspective," Williams said. "We're still very hopeful that those young pitchers will get a chance to pitch and get a chance to come up and be in the big leagues this year and make an impact."
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Straily broke out in a big way during the second half of 2016 (10-2, 3.10 ERA), benefiting from a .241 BABIP that helped minimize the damage of a 1.8 HR/9 rate in that stretch. While less-fortunate batted-ball luck may be in his immediate future, the right-hander could stave off major regression with help from his new pitcher-friendly home venue. Deep-mixed owners should view Straily as a solid streaming option.
Back in Cincinnati, Straily's departure opens up another spot in an unsettled rotation. Youngsters such as Brice, Stephenson and Garrett will open the season on waivers in most leagues, but they should also be monitored by those in deep-mixed formats.