The trade deadline is three weeks away and there is one move that the SF Giants should make that would change the dynamic of the starting rotation and make them a playoff threat. That move would be trading for Cincinnati Reds star Luis Castillo.
The move the SF Giants absolutely need to make at the trade deadline
Most fans know that Castillo was originally a Giants pitching prospect. San Francisco originally signed the star pitcher out of the Dominican Republican in December of 2011.
He was shipped along with another pitching prospect in Kendry Flores in a fateful trade to acquire Casey McGehee from the Miami Marlins. In a weird quirk, the Marlins traded away Castillo twice. In the first trade, he was shipped in a blockbuster trade with the San Diego Padres that netted pitcher Colin Rea in return at the 2016 trade deadline.
However, Rea sustained an elbow injury shortly after the deal, so Castillo was returned back to Maimi. He was sent to the Reds along with two other prospects in exchange for pitcher Dan Straily in the following offseason. To the Giants' credit, they only traded Castillo away once.
However, it has been a tough move to stomach as the 29-year-old pitcher has blossomed into one of the better pitchers in the National League. In six seasons, Castillo has registered a 3.64 ERA, 3.69 FIP, 1.20 WHIP, 9.8 K/9, and a 2.99 SO/W ratio with the Reds.
Despite pitching in the hitter-friendly confines of the Great American Ball Park, Castillo has done well to induce weak contact, recording a ground ball in 53.5 percent of batted ball events. He attacks the strike zone, accumulates healthy strikeout totals, and gets plenty of ground balls. That is exactly the type of profile that the Giants' front office covets.
He has thrived in 2022 as he has registered a 2.92 ERA, 3.03 FIP, 1.09 WHIP, 9.4 K/9, and a 3.22 SO/W ratio in 12 starts. On Sunday, he was also elected to his second NL All-Star game.
How could the Giants afford a pitcher like this? Well, it is going to cost a lot as he has one more year of arbitration remaining before he becomes a free agent. It would cost a significant prospect package.
The Giants have played inconsistent ball for much of this season. However, they remain in the playoff picture with a 43-41 record. They are in a different position than they were a year ago, but they might be better positioned in at least one area in 2022.
That area is the top of the starting rotation. As a unit, San Francisco's rotation has posted a 3.83 ERA, which ranks as the fifth-best mark in the NL. This is a bit of a drop-off from the 3.44 ERA the starting staff tallied last year, which was the third-best in the league.
Webb cemented himself as a legitimate big-game pitcher as he yielded just one earned run against the Los Angeles Dodgers in two starts during last year's NLDS. Rodón has excelled against some of the best teams in the league in 2022 as he has posted a 1.38 ERA in six combined starts against the Dodgers (2), Padres (2), Atlanta Braves (1), and New York Mets (1).
Castillo has thrived against some of the best teams as well as he has generated a 2.59 ERA in seven starts against teams with over a .500 winning percentage this year. He along with Rodón and Webb have the experience and pedigree to handle some of the best teams in the league.
Was that the case in 2021? After winning 107 games, it certainly felt like it. However, it is tough to ignore that DeSclafani struggled to the tune of a 7.33 ERA in six starts against the Dodgers. These struggles continued as he yielded two earned runs in 1.2 innings in Game 4 of the NLDS.
Gausman was more effective than DeSclafani against the Dodgers with a 3.21 ERA in three regular seasons games. He allowed five earned runs in his final two regular-season starts against the division rivals, spanning a total of eight innings. The Dodgers did not have as many uncomfortable at-bats against Gausman as there were against the rest of the league. Of course, Gausman also allowed four earned runs in 5.1 innings against the Dodgers in Game 2 of the NLDS.
Despite the historic season, there were some cracks that were exposed in the postseason. Could similar cracks be exposed in the postseason this year? Absolutely, but a Webb, Rodón, and Castillo trio has a better feel to it while also being a legitimate threat that no team would want to face in the playoffs.
With all that being said, the Giants should trade for Castillo because he is very good at baseball. At this point, the Giants should probably pursue a soft buy at the trade deadline, but if they want to be aggressive buyers, then Castillo is the way to go.
I have done the hard work in identifying the ideal trade target. Now it is up to the front office to do the rest...