Luis Castillo goes from trade deadline target to Yankees foe
When Luis Castillo took the mound against the Yankees last month, the 29-year-old starting pitcher aced what many viewed as his audition for the club with the majors’ best record.
Less than 24 hours before MLB’s trade deadline, however, Castillo still came through the visiting entrance of Yankee Stadium on Monday after the Reds traded him to the Mariners in exchange for a haul of minor-league prospects just a couple days earlier.
“The Yankees were definitely one of the ones very interested,” Castillo said with the help of a translator before making his debut in a Mariners uniform in dugout of the Mariners’ 7-2 loss to the Yankees on Monday night in The Bronx.
The Yankees’ main goal leading up to Tuesday’s deadline is to bolster their rotation and injury-riddled bullpen — which was exasperated by the loss of Michael King for the season with an elbow injury. Castillo was regarded as Plan A, but the Yankees weren’t willing to part with their top prospect, shortstop Anthony Volpe, to get it done, according to The Post’s Joel Sherman.
So general manager Brian Cashman pivoted to Plan B on Monday: Frankie Montas. The Yankees sent their own haul of prospects — JP Sears, Ken Waldichuk, Luis Medina and Cooper Bowman — to the Athletics to acquire the Dominican hurler.
Contrary to the last time he faced the Yankees, when he was still with the Reds, Castillo came back to New York as a new rival pitcher in the American League. The Yankees were understandably impressed with Castillo, who allowed one run in seven innings and struck out eight batters in that July 14 matchup, in which the Yankees lost 7-6 in 10 innings.
In addition to throwing 17 first-pitch strikes, six of his strikeouts came on the four-seam fastball. His fastball and changeup were virtually untouchable, and the Yankees took notice. Castillo was on pace for a no-hitter until Anthony Rizzo doubled down the right-field line in the sixth inning to put runners on second and third with one out.
When asked about the transition from the rebuilding Reds to the wild-card-hunting Mariners, Castillo insinuated it was business as usual and said he’d give his all for his new team.
“It feels good, I mean, you’re coming to a team that is so close to getting to that postseason,” he said. “The only thing left is just continue doing what the team has been doing and working hard and I’m sure we’ll get there.”
In 85 innings entering Monday’s game, Castillo was 4-4 with a 2.86 ERA and 90 strikeouts. His bounce-back season comes after a tough 2021 campaign, over which he recorded a career-high 33 starts and compiled a career-worst 8-16 record. Castillo’s 16 losses were the most in the National League, while his 3.98 ERA was the second worst of his six-year MLB career.
Seattle will now get to reap the benefits of their new starter, while the Yankees get a front row seat to his first outing in a new uniform.
“Obviously, I heard all the rumors throughout the whole journey,” Castillo said. “I’ve heard that five, six teams — a lot of rumors that a lot of teams looking for me. But I was always focused on doing my job and luckily [I was] traded here to Seattle and I’m happy.”