The Mariners made their move.
By acquiring starting pitcher Luis Castillo from the Reds on Friday, Seattle locked down the top arm on the trade market and significantly strengthened their rotation.
But, as one might expect when looking to beat offers from some of the league’s best teams, the price tag was hefty: The Mariners sent four prospects to Cincinnati, including three of the top five in their system.
As always, national pundits and fans, including commenters across our stories and social posts, differ on whether the cost was worth the aggressiveness. Here’s what people are saying about the MLB trade deadline’s biggest splash so far.
For the Win: Charles Curtis gives the Mariners a B
WOW! I honestly wondered if the Mariners should make a huge move given their prospect pool … and if that huge move should involve the Nats’ Juan Soto. But when you’ve got an intriguing team with an already-solid rotation and a lineup really putting it all together, this might be a time to shove in some of your chips. Castillo is in the middle of an All-Star year, with a 2.86 ERA and 90 Ks in 85 innings. With a rotation that includes Logan Gilbert, Robbie Ray, Marco Gonzales and Chris Flexen, Castillo adds ace-like stuff. That should, in theory, push this team to be among the Wild Card favorites. Beyond that? This is where I worry about trading a top prospect like Marte in a deal like this. The Mariners aren’t better than the Astros or Yankees … but when you enter the postseason with a pitcher like Castillo as your ace, your chances go up in a playoff series. It’s somewhat risky, but you’ve got to give credit for rolling the dice.
ESPN: David Schoenfield gives the Mariners a C
Scouts have long viewed Castillo as a potential ace, and he’s been closer than ever to that level in 2022 — that’s why all the contenders needing a starter wanted this guy. … The added bonus is Castillo is also under team control for 2023, giving the Mariners six viable starting pitcher options for next season in Castillo, Gilbert, Kirby, Robbie Ray, Marco Gonzales and Chris Flexen. Of course, there’s still that offense that needs upgrading. Trading Marte, their top prospect, almost certainly takes them out of the Soto sweepstakes, which they probably weren’t going to win anyway. Sure, they could offer a package of Kirby, Emerson Hancock, Jarred Kelenic, Kyle Lewis and another prospect, but that would basically empty the farm system, and given Kelenic’s struggles at the major league level, his trade value isn’t Soto-worthy right now anyway. … Look, you can argue that no team needs a trip to the playoffs more than the Mariners … but they did give up two extremely promising prospects to get Castillo, and I think there’s a very strong likelihood this trade looks lopsided in favor of the Reds in a few years. Yes, the trade helps the Mariners for this season and next, but given how the Astros have crushed them in five games of late, Seattle hardly looks like a World Series contender in 2022 (but you have to get in to have a chance!).
CBS Sports: R.J. Anderson gives Mariners an A
This is the kind of trade you make when you haven’t made the playoffs in more than two decades. Seriously, though, this is a welcomed sight in a few respects, beginning with how it rewards a passionate (and tormented) Seattle fan base and extending to how it runs counterculture to the league as a whole. … The Mariners are not going to win the AL West. They’ll enter Saturday as far behind the Houston Astros as the San Diego Padres are the Los Angeles Dodgers. Adding Castillo does shore up their postseason odds, and, more importantly, it makes them a more dangerous October opponent. … It was a lot to give up, no doubt, and this trade will limit Seattle’s ability to make further moves, this summer and heading forward. Castillo’s addition could end up being the difference between the Mariners winning a playoff series (or more) and not. We’re giving the Mariners an A because we think teams — particularly those who aren’t the usual suspects — prioritizing the potential for deep playoff runs is healthier for the sport, and because we quite like Castillo as a pitcher.
Stephen Nesbitt: Castillo immediately elevates the Mariners rotation: He and Robbie Ray will be a dandy one-two punch in the playoffs. Castillo has a career 3.22 ERA at home, despite Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati being tied with Coors Field for being the worst pitcher’s park in the majors, per Statcast park factors. Now his home ballpark is T-Mobile Park, which rates as the best ballpark for pitchers. I’m sure he’ll appreciate the difference. The wave of young pitchers the Mariners have at or near the major-league level — from Gilbert to Kirby to Matt Brash and Emerson Hancock and more — represent a bright future, but Dipoto recognized that the best play for the present was to strengthen the rotation with a veteran arm. The price was high, as the Mariners parted with three of their top five prospects, but there’s reason to believe Castillo will provide enough value over the next 15 months to make the cost worthwhile, even if he goes elsewhere in free agency.
C. Trent Rosecrans: As happy as Dipoto may be about acquiring Castillo, there are two people in the Mariners clubhouse perhaps even more excited — Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suárez. Why? Because they know exactly what the Mariners are getting in Castillo. They’re getting an ace, and an ace who thrives on big moments and has dominated in one of the most challenging ballpark environments in baseball in Great American Ball Park. Put Castillo in Seattle? Whew.
Eno Sarris: In Castillo, the Mariners are getting an ace. Since he broke into the league in 2017, only one qualified starter has had a ground-ball rate as high as he’s shown and struck out more batters — so he’s able to minimize damage and keep batters off the basepaths. He’s got power and command and has been able to keep the ball in the park in a terrible park for pitchers — he’ll enjoy getting out of Cincinnati. … There’s always debate about what makes a true ace. Maybe Castillo is on the wrong side of that for some, and so they’ll talk about how big the haul was for the Reds and consider the idea that maybe the Mariners overpaid. But a guy with this kind of velocity, and this kind of advanced command of a large arsenal? He looks the part of a staff leader, and he’ll change the top of Seattle’s rotation either way. Probably worth the prospects.
Join the conversation: Tell us what you think of the deal in the comments below.
At first I was a little disappointed that they had to give up their two hottest shortstop prospects to do this. But then I thought… they have JP sewn up for five years, and beyond that Felnin Celesten may be coming along. They traded from a position of strength to do this. I’m just glad they were able to pull off a move like this while hanging on to Kelenic, Hancock, Montes and Dollard. — prssoapbar
Any chance that the M’s were playing possum with Marte and Arroyo? Keeping them a little lower in the minors maybe sitting them against tougher pitchers, talking about them to the press like they are can’t miss? It happens. See Jesus Montero. — dmarks
Now maybe Ian happ to replace winker and I’m happy. One more bat — hawk attack
Got a top-of-the-rotation pitcher. Didn’t give up anyone on the major league roster. The Ms can scale back on Kirby’s innings this season to protect his young arm. They still have five quality starters. Need Haniger and Lewis to make some offensive contributions. — jeffd928
incredible trade by dipoto. castillo is a great pitcher. dipoto didn’t give up as much as I thought he would have to. really impressive. — rogermaris
Ms still need another reliever — KokoPup
This is huge. Castillo gives us not just urgently needed depth, but a true impact starter if/when we make the playoffs in the Year 2525. — hophead