Dodgers Rumors: LA plotting ‘go for it’ move for Reds ace Luis Castillo?
By Adam Weinrib
Raise your hand if you’ve heard this one before: the Dodgers, already armed with one of baseball’s best rotations and awaiting internal reinforcements, are back on the phone with the Cincinnati Reds to discuss their ace.
The Reds have sat on Luis Castillo since the start of the 2020-21 offseason, holding onto their best trade chip as they tore the roster down around him, running into a “down year” last summer at the worst possible time. Castillo was valued at 2020 prices during ’21, and while his averages eventually normalized, the surface results were garish (8-16 record, league-leading 33 starts and 75 walks).
Castillo’s always been special, blending a mid-90s fastball with a devilish changeup and unique poise. During the 2021 campaign, though, he didn’t always pitch like himself, and the Dodgers opted to pursue rental Max Scherzer and All-Star Trea Turner with their elite chips instead. All things considered, likely the right call.
Surprisingly, though, the Dodgers haven’t abandoned the Castillo dream, even as their rotation has proven effective in 2022. The names haven’t been quite as familiar, but with Walker Buehler down and Scherzer gone, lefty Tyler Anderson and righty Tony Gonsolin have been as good as, or better than, any option who could be imported. Add in Dustin May’s eventual return, and you’ve got a unit as good as any — but potentially not as deep.
No matter how well the Dodgers’ mid-rotation names perform, none of them are aces like Buehler … or Castillo. Therefore, Andrew Friedman has checked in yet again with Cincinnati in recent days to discuss pricing.
Dodgers Rumors: LAD pursuing Reds ace Luis Castillo
If he wants an up close and personal look, he can just stay in Dodger Stadium for the All-Star festivities; Castillo made the NL’s All-Star team for the second time in his career (2019).
This season, Castillo has rebounded with a 158 ERA+ that, if he made it to the finish line, would rank as the best mark of his career. Below the hood, his Statcast profile proves he’s still elite at avoiding barrels and inducing whiffs, though his hard-hit metrics leave a little something to be desired.
Castillo’s 2.92 ERA and 74 whiffs in 71 innings are nice, but his presence would be felt most effectively in a playoff series, where his reputation precedes him. Though the Dodgers’ rotation is leading the league in collective ERA, those in charge also know Castillo’s name strikes more fear into the heart of opponents than Anderson’s or, say, Andrew Heaney.
Will this finally be the year the Dodgers plunge into Castillo’s waters and surrender two top-10 prospects just to bolster their rotation’s intimidation factor?
Regardless, this is a warning sign to the rest of baseball’s contenders to announce the Dodgers remain both elite and unsatisfied.