Could the Braves get in on the Luis Castillo sweepstakes this offseason?

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Earlier this week, it was reported the Reds would listen to offers on former All-Star pitcher Luis Castillo.

It’s difficult to know what the Reds will be thinking this offseason. They attempted to be competitive after losing Trevor Bauer last offseason, but it was to no avail. Now, they will most likely lose Nick Castellanos in free agency, but they still have some talent on their roster. I imagine they’ll explore everything, even a mini-rebuild, which could include trading Castillo, but he won’t come cheap.

The 28-year old has two years of arbitration, the first of which is estimated to pay him around $7.5 million. That’s an unbelievable bargain for a pitcher of his caliber. In 2021, Castillo posted the highest ERA of his career since 2018 (3.98), but that doesn’t tell the whole story. He still was in the top 7% of the league when it comes to barrel rate, striking out over a batter an inning, and out of his four-pitch mix, only one of them surrendered an xBA over .208 (sinker at .294).

Castillo was an All-Star in 2019 and posted the lowest ERA of his career during the shortened 2020 campaign — a year in which the Braves saw firsthand how nasty he could be in the playoffs. In Game 2 of the NL Wild Card series, Castillo gave up just one run over 5.1 innings while striking out seven.

As far as stuff goes, few can match what he brings to the table. Castillo boasts a fastball and sinker combination that can each touch triple digits, but he leans on his patented wicked changeup more than any pitch in his arsenal. For all of those reasons, the Reds will be asking a lot for his services, but it might be the kind of deal that’s worth it for the Braves.

Max Fried, Ian Anderson, and Charlie Morton are as formidable of a top-three as any, but after that, many question marks remain. The Braves have several young options, and while they may be confident in them, you can never have too much starting pitching. If they were to suffer a significant injury to one of their top rotation arms, they’d find themselves in quite the pickle — similar to 2020.

I’m sure the Braves will be looking for one more starting arm. MLB Trade Rumors had them potentially targeting Justin Verlander or Corey Kluber. But with money potentially being tight, a trade could be the best way to add a frontline starter. Castillo would create an elite four-headed monster on top of Atlanta’s rotation next season, and he could potentially replace Morton in 2023 at a lower rate.

 

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