Rumors are swirling that teams are attempting to trade for Castillo and the Reds are listening. Please note, Cincinnati is not actively shopping La Piedra.
That said, given that Wade Miley, Tucker Barnhart, and likely Nick Castellanos, will not be back in the Queen City for the 2022 season, it's possible that Castillo may be pitching elsewhere next season.
While some fans will look at this as a rebuild, I don't. The Reds are getting some relatively expensive contracts off their books and will look to replace them with some of their budding prospects.
Dealing Barnhart to the Detroit Tigers will give Tyler Stephenson to the opportunity to be the Reds everyday catcher, a role he seems primed to excel in.
Miley's departure opens the door for either Nick Lodolo or Hunter Greene to be part of the rotation for Opening Day next season.
Trading Luis Castillo, while not ideal by any stretch of the imagination, could be viewed along the same lines.
Why should the Reds trade Luis Castillo?
While we all like to look at how well Luis Castillo finished the 2021 season, let's not forget how it began.
Castillo went 1-8 in his first 11 starts and carried a K/9 of just 8.25, punching out 38 batters over 52.1 innings and posting a 7.22 ERA.
Castillo put his early-season woes behind him, posting a 2.73 ERA over his final 22 starts. Still, his K/9 was only 9.58.
The harsh reality is, the Reds will not offer the type of contract it's going to take to keep Luis Castillo in Cincinnati beyond the 2023 season.
Castillo is under team control for the next two seasons, and will be entering his age-31 season before he becomes a free agent following the 2023 season.
The Reds signed former pitcher Homer Bailey to a six-year/$105M in 2014. Bailey was 28 years old at the time, coming off two solid seasons. However, that contract haunted the franchise for years.
The Reds are still feeling the effects having dealt two top prospects (Josiah Gray and Jeter Downs) to the Los Angeles Dodgers just to get out from under Bailey's massive salary.
Unless the Cincinnati Reds find themselves fortunate enough to have a pitcher like Max Scherzer or Gerrit Cole come up through their farm system, I don't foresee the team signing a starter to such a lucrative offer.
Furthermore, Luis Castillo's trade value will never be higher than it is right now and the Reds must capitalize on that fact.
The right-hander returned to form during the second-half of the 2021 season and will be relatively inexpensive for the next two seasons.
What could the Reds hope to get if they traded Luis Castillo?
Last year, the Toronto Blue Jays traded two top prospects to the Minnesota Twins for right-handed starter Jose Berríos.
Berríos is only under team control through next season and his numbers (12-9, 3.52 ERA, 26.1% K-rate) were quite comparable to Castillo's.
The Reds could easily land another team's top prospect or even two Top 100 prospects.
For example, should the Reds engage with the San Diego Padres in trade talks, Cincinnati could likely request CJ Abrams and Robert Hassell III as part of a potential deal for Castillo and receive very little pushback from the Friars' front office.
As we've seen, following the departures of Tucker Barnhart and Wade Miley, the Reds are looking to cut costs this offseason
While Luis Castillo's estimated salary of $7.6M courtesy of MLB Trade Rumors, would be a bargain, it still represents a good chunk of change.
One Cincinnati would no doubt replace with a starter who's making the league-minimum (Reiver Sanmartin, Nick Lodolo, or Hunter Greene).
If the Cincinnati Reds, as we assume, do not have any intention of signing Luis Castillo for the long haul, the team should trade him this winter.