The Seattle Mariners, looking to end a playoff drought that stretched into 2001, acquired the best arm in the trade market on Friday night in a deal with right-hander Luis Castillo of the Reds from Cincinnati.
Minor leaguers Noelvi Marte, Levi Stoudt, Edwin Arroyo and Andrew Moore are heading to Cincinnati, the teams announced. Marte, a shortstop, is the highest rated of the bunch, with ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel ranking him 12th among baseball’s top prospects going into the season.
The Mariners, led by star rookie Julio Rodriguez, are 54-47, 12 games behind the No. 1 Houston Astros in the AL West and retain the second-place wildcard.
Now they’ve added the best available arm ahead of Tuesday’s trade deadline, one who will join an already strong rotation that includes Robbie Ray and Logan Gilbert.
It’s a massive comeback for a Mariners team that hasn’t reached the playoffs since 2001, the longest active drought among North America’s four major professional sports leagues (MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL).
The 29-year-old right-hander Castillo is 4-4 with a 2.86 ERA in 14 starts with the Reds this season and a career 3.62 ERA in six seasons, all with Cincinnati.
Castillo won’t be eligible for free agency until the end of the 2023 season, so the Mariners would have him for at least the rest of this year and all of next.
Castillo rebounded from a career-worst season in 2021, when he lost 16 games and batted a league-high 75 batters. His switch has been his best pitch for most of his career, but this year he’s pitching more of his four-seam fastball, and doing so with great success. Opponents sniffed 39% of their swings against his four seams, the highest rate of Castillo’s career and the highest of any pitcher at the majors (minimum 300 four seams thrown).
Castillo has a 1.38 ERA in four starts against the AL this year, second only to the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw (0.69) among qualified pitchers.
The Reds have moved veteran players for prospects since the lockdown ended earlier this year. In March, they traded Eugenio Suarez and Jesse Winker to the Mariners, and on Thursday they traded outfielder Tyler Naquin and reliever Phillip Diehl to the New York Mets.
They’re leveraging Seattle in that trade, with Marte and Arroyo being ranked among the team’s top 10 prospects ahead of the season by ESPN’s McDaniel.
Marte, 20, spent the year for High-A Everett, hitting .275 with 15 homers and a team-high 62 runs scored and 55 RBI to go along with 13 interceptions coming in Friday.
McDaniel ranked Arroyo, also a shortstop, as Seattle’s eighth-best prospect at the start of the season. The 18-year-old spent the season at Single-A Modesto, hitting .316 with 76 runs, 67 RBIs, 13 home runs and 21 steals.
Stoudt, a 24-year-old right-hander and a 2019 third-round pick, is 6-6 with a 5.28 ERA in 18 starts for Double-A Arkansas this season.
And Moore has a 1.95 ERA in 25 relief appearances at Modesto this season.
Cincinnati infielder Brandon Drury could also be moved before Tuesday’s deadline, along with several Reds relievers.
ESPN’s Jesse Rogers contributed to this report.