KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In his first two months with the Seattle Mariners, Luis Castillo has been as advertised at the top of pitching rotation. Armed with a 100-mph fastball and a wipeout slider, Castillo has helped deliver the Mariners to the cusp of their first playoff appearance since 2001.
Mariners ownership, in turn, has delivered on a long-standing promise.
The Mariners have signed Castillo, their 29-year-old right-handed ace acquired at a hefty cost at the trade deadline, to a five-year, $108 million contract extension that includes a vesting club option worth $25 million for a sixth year in 2028.
“I’m very happy — very happy that I’m here,” Castillo said through interpreter Freddy Llanos inside the visitors’ clubhouse at Kauffman Stadium shortly after the deal was announced Saturday afternoon.
No one is happier than Mariners manager Scott Servais.
“I guarantee no one is happier than me,” Servais said.
The contract announcement is a welcome bit of news for a club that is in the midst of its most disappointing road trip of the season, having lost six of eight games on this 10-day swing entering Saturday’s game against the Royals.
The Mariners, with two weeks left in he regular season, are limping to the finish line. Rookie sensation Julio Rodriguez (back) was placed on the injured list Friday, a week after slugging third baseman Eugenio Suarez (finger) landed on the IL.
But with Castillo anchoring a pitching staff that has ranked among the league’s best in the second half of the season, the Mariners cling to hope.
Castillo is scheduled to start the series finale Sunday, and he is the projected Game 1 starter in a potential playoff series, should the Mariners (82-68) advance.
“The fact that we’re able to get this [contract] done is awesome,” Servais said. “It’s really a credit to our ownership group, understanding where we’re at as an organization. They’ve talked for a long time about [spending] when it’s time to ‘go.'”
The all-in investment to acquire Castillo from Cincinnati in July was the Mariners’ strongest signal yet of their intent to end a two-decade playoff drought. The Mariners sent four top prospects to the Reds, beating out the Yankees, among others, in getting what they saw as the top pitcher available on the trade market.
The investment to keep Castillo in Seattle long-term is a clear indication of the Mariners’ plan to remain competitive beyond this one pennant race.
Castillo’s deal comes a month after the Mariners made a hefty commitment to Rodriguez, who is guaranteed at least $209 million over the next 12 years. The team also signed left-hander Robbie Ray to a $115 million free-agent deal in the offseason.
Castillo flew from California to Seattle to sign the contract earlier in the week, then flew from Seattle to Kansas City to rejoin the team Thursday night.
The deal includes a $25 million vesting option for 2028 that becomes guaranteed if Castillo pitches 180 innings in 2027.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan first reported the deal Saturday. One notable detail: If Castillo undergoes elbow surgery on his right arm between 2025-27 that keeps him out for 130 days or more, the Mariners will receive a $5 million option for 2028, Passan reported.
“Luis has been one of the top pitchers in MLB over the past six seasons,” M’s president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto said in a statement. “He is a dynamic power pitcher in the prime of his career with a track record of consistency. Bringing him to Seattle represented a key moment in our ongoing efforts to build a championship roster. Similarly, this deal illustrates our continued commitment to both the present and future of this team.”
A two-time All-Star, Castillo has made 23 starts combined between Seattle and Cincinnati this season, going 7-6 with a 2.85 ERA with 41 walks and 154 strikeouts in 139 innings.
Castillo, a native of of Bani, Dominican Republic, was originally signed as an amateur free agent by the San Francisco Giants in 2011. He’s been traded four times in his career, and he said he’s glad to have the chance to settle down in Seattle.
“My family is very happy that we’re going to be here for quite a bit of time — that we’re going to have that stability,” Castillo said. “I’m just excited that we’ll be here for a long time.”
Since joining Seattle on July 28, Castillo is 3-2 with a 2.83 ERA with 13 walks and 64 strikeouts in nine starts, helping the Mariners to the cusp of their first playoff appearance since 2001
In six MLB seasons, Castillo has made 146 career starts with Cincinnati (137) and Seattle (9), going 47-55 with a 3.57 ERA with 300 walks and 924 strikeouts in 846.1 innings.
The Mariners have their entire starting rotation under contract for 2023. And with the emergence of young right-handers Logan Gilbert and George Kirby, the Mariners could have one of the best rotations in the American League.
“I’m very happy with this rotation,” Castillo said, “and hopefully we can continue to work and see how far we can go over the next few years.”