Reds: Luis Castillo’s career in Cincinnati may be coming to an end

CINCINNATI, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 17: Luis Castillo #58 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches in the first inning. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 17: Luis Castillo #58 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches in the first inning. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Will tonight’s start versus the Pittsburgh Pirates be the last time we see Luis Castillo in a Cincinnati Reds uniform? The majority of Reds Country is hoping that’s not the case, but the Cincinnati faithful may need to wrap their minds around the idea of Castillo pitching elsewhere in 2022.

Now, why in the world would the Cincinnati Reds move on from one of their best pitchers? There’s a myriad of reasons, but near the top would be Castillo’s upcoming raise. Through the arbitration process, Castillo will be due a significant bump in pay.

This past winter, Castillo and the club agreed to a one-year/$4.2M contract. While it’s anyone’s guess as to what the right-hander could take home during arbitration this offseason, I’d wager he’s likely to at least double his current salary.

That said, even if Castillo accounted for $10M of the team’s payroll next season, it’d be a bargain. Castillo is well regarded as one of the best pitchers in baseball despite his dip in production this season.

Will the Reds and Luis Castillo part ways this offseason?

Now, while Luis Castillo’s salary is set to increase in 2022, in no way will the Cincinnati Reds non-tender the right-hander this offseason. Let’s give Cincinnati’s front office a little credit. However, after dismissing Raisel Iglesias and Archie Bradley last winter, you have to assume that the Reds will be looking to slash payroll again in 2022.

While fans were pleased to see the success of Jonathan India and Tyler Stephenson this season, this could lead to the front office assuming some first-year players in 2022 could make a similar impact. Could Cincinnati trade Castillo this offseason and replace him in the rotation with either Nick Lodolo or Hunter Greene?

No player on the Reds is likely to have a higher trade value than Luis Castillo. So, if the front office felt comfortable with Lodolo and/ or Greene being part of next year’s starting rotation, Castillo all of the sudden could become expendable.

Castillo isn’t the only Cincinnati star due an increase in pay. Jesse Winker, Tyler Mahle, and Lucas Sims will all receive a raise this winter. The club may even look to lock up a handful of it’s young core, specifically Winker, over the offseason.

In essence, the Reds could save money by rolling with Hunter Greene over Luis Castillo and gain some high-value prospects in return. From the business side of things, dealing Castillo this offseason could be the right move for the present and the future.

Money could be a factor in whether or not the Reds keep Luis Castillo.

Cincinnati is likely to be saddled with the contracts of Mike Moustakas and Shogo Akiyama next season. That unproductive duo will take home a combined $24M in 2022. Shaving an extra $10M or so off the books could help the Reds add to their beleaguered bullpen over the offseason, or just reduce spending all together.

The 1.5M fans that visited Great American Ball Park this past season is the lowest since the ballpark opened in 2003. To be fair, there were capacity restrictions for nearly one-third of the season. But, those numbers don’t bode well for the ownership cashing in on gate revenue and concessions, meaning the club may be looking at player’s salaries as a means to offset spending.

At the end of the day, the deciding factor on Luis Castillo’s future with the Cincinnati Reds may come down to how the team views itself. Are the Redlegs contenders or pretenders heading into next season?

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If the Reds front office and ownership really believe that next year’s team can legitimately compete for a division crown, then Castillo should be re-signed this offseason. If Cincinnati’s brass feel that it’s a long shot for their club to make a run at the postseason in 2022, then Castillo should be dealt while his value is still relatively high.