Word was that Cincinnati had explored the idea of signing La Piedra to a contract extension before the decision was made to trade the two-time All-Star prior to this year's trade deadline.
Ultimately, the Cincinnati Reds traded Luis Castillo to the Seattle Mariners and in return, the Redlegs secured the services of shortstops Edwin Arroyo and Noelvi Marte, as well as pitcher Andrew Moore and Levi Stoudt. Time will tell which side won the trade, but let's look at some factors that probably went into the Reds thought process.
Why the Reds decided not to sign Luis Castillo to a contract extension.
First, let's address the elephant in the room. Before the 2022 season began, the Cincinnati Reds front office and ownership made it abundantly clear that they were slashing payroll. Wade Miley, Sonny Gray, Amir Garrett, Tucker Barnhart, Nick Castellanos, Jesse Winker, and Eugenio Suarez were all either traded or not retained during the offseason.
Blog Red Machine opined about the possibility of a Luis Castillo extension back in June, suggesting the right-hander could likely net between $90-$110M contract. That educated guess was pretty close to the $21.6M average annual value Castillo signed for.
Make no mistake, the Reds certainly could have afforded Castillo's asking price. Homer Bailey signed a contract that was almost identical to the very number La Piedra signed for. Cincinnati also has Mike Moustakas' $18M coming off the books after the 2023 season and, if the Reds decline Joey Votto's team-option, that's another $20 that would be available.
Two biggest factors in the Reds' decision not to extend Luis Castillo.
At the end of the day, there were probably two major reasons that the Cincinnati Reds and Luis Castillo did not come to an agreement on a contract extension. First has to be the acknowledgment that it take two to tango, and perhaps Castillo preferred to enter the open market or had lost faith in the Reds' blueprint for success.
Another reason the Reds may have refrained from diving into serious contract talks with Castillo could be their desire to sign a player like Tyler Stephenson or Jonathan India to a long-term contract. Aside from Votto and Moustakas, Cincinnati has no contractually commitments beyond next season.
Both Stephenson and India would seem to represent the two most likely stars for the Cincinnati Reds moving forward, and rather than allowing the duo to enter free agency, the front office may try to lock up one or both before the pair enters arbitration after next season. The Reds have done this in the past with budding stars like Jay Bruce and Eugenio Suarez.
Cincinnati also has three up-and-coming starters (Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, and Graham Ascraft) who may well elevate their game to that of Luis Castillo in the coming years as well.
The Mariners did what everyone expected them to do. You don't give up what Seattle did at the trade deadline unless you plan to ink Castillo to a long-term deal. That said, the M's will be paying Castillo in the neighborhood of $25M during his age 34, and potentially age 35 season. That's a gamble, and one Seattle was willing to take in order to get back to the postseason and become a World Series contender.
The Cincinnati Reds, on the other hand, realized that this season and next were unlikely to yield a winning record, so they've got their eyes on the future with the additions of four minor league prospects. That's also a gamble, and one Cincinnati was willing to take as they assume a player like Noelvi Marte or Edwin Arroyo could be a key piece of the next contending Reds team.