If you missed the news this afternoon, Luis Castillo signed a 5-year extension with the Seattle Mariners worth $108,000,000. There’s also a $25,000,000 vesting option for a 6th season (what would make this option vest has not yet been released) according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. Cincinnati reportedly engaged with Castillo in extension talks before trading him and according to Bobby Nightengale’s story at the Cincinnati Enquirer the talks didn’t get very far.
The question we all have to ask now is what the heck were the Reds offering before they decided to instead trade him to the Mariners? Luis Castillo signed a contract that is basically the equivalent deal that the team handed to Homer Bailey a decade ago. But as things stand today, the Reds are bringing in a whole lot more money now than they were then. Every team in baseball can afford a contract like this, even if some of them choose not to do so.
And it’s not as if Cincinnati doesn’t have a bunch of money to work with, no matter how anyone wants to look at it. Half of the money owed to Luis Castillo next year comes off of the books with Mike Minor’s deal. Then in 2024 they lose the Mike Moustakas contract money and potentially $14M of Joey Votto’s money if they decline his option. There is mountains of money available to be spent moving forward.
Is it possible that Luis Castillo looked at the Reds franchise and what’s been going on and said no to an offer that was similar to the one that the Mariners offered? Sure, that’s possible. He was in the midst of a season where his team was playing beyond terrible where Phil Castellini kicked off the season by insulting the fanbase, and perhaps the players themselves with his whole “be careful what you wish for” and “where you gonna go” statements on Opening Day. The team had taken a playoff team in 2021 and gave away a key starting for nothing after the year in Wade Miley, they traded catcher Tucker Barnhart, then opted to begin spring training by trading away Sonny Gray, Eugenio Suarez, and Jesse Winker.
Castillo went from a franchise that through their actions was saying “we aren’t even pretending to try and win baseball games” to a franchise that is doing the exact opposite. Are the Reds cheap? Yeah, maybe there are. Is that why Luis Castillo signed an extension somewhere else? Maybe. But perhaps it’s also because of the fact that one organization showed that they not only want to win, but that they are actively trying to (and succeeding in it) while the other seemed to go in the opposite direction.