In mid-January, right in the sweet spot for suckering fans of all ages with well-placed trade speculation, the Twitter world briefly shouted that the Yankees were about to acquire Reds ace Luis Castillo.
An exceptional No. 2 behind Gerrit Cole! And all it would cost was … Gleyber Torres? Really? The guy who hit 38 homers in 2019, the last time anyone had played a full season?
Believe it or not, some people convinced themselves this would be a worthwhile swap, and a gut punch to the rest of Major League Baseball.
Two months into the 2021 season, it looks like something that’d rank alongside Lou Brock-for-Ernie Broglio among short-sighted nonsense deals. Luckily, this one didn’t happen — or probably even come close.
To be fair … no one saw this backslide coming. Nothing in the advanced metrics said Castillo was about to become one of the worst pitchers in baseball.
Still, though, we can exhale now, because not only did the Yankees keep their All-Star-caliber starting shortstop, who’s improving with the bat and glove, but they avoided overpaying for a pitcher who would’ve performed much worse than Sonny Gray.
The Yankees averted a wild disaster by not trading Gleyber Torres for Luis Castillo.
Were the Yankees ever actually tempted by this fantastical-sounding proposal? Probably … not? Odds are they leaked this information just as Reds GM Nick Krall, fresh off consuming too much tuna, was denying the conversations had ever happened.
In mid-January, though, it was a talking point. A hypothetical upon which sides could be taken. Even in April, some fans were wondering if Torres’ time in the Bronx had already run its course!
Now? It’s one hell of a sliding doors moment which could’ve blown up the Bombers if executed.
Castillo’s implosion to begin 2021 has resulted from a changeup that’s still working, but isn’t being offset by a fastball that’s been tattooed (.372 BA/.342 XBA) and a sinker he’s all but abandoned after batters smacked it to the tune of a .531 average. Strangely — and we’re not sure how all this was missed in the January fervor — his maximum exit velocity was awful last year, too (114.4, in the bottom 6% of the league), and the number’s gotten worse this season, along with a bottom-seventh-percentile .393 WOBA.
Forget about the long-term and the bounce-back potential for a second. If this trade had been executed this winter, it would’ve thrown 2021 off its tracks.
And the rumored deal was even more expansive when it was first speculated upon by rival executives back in 2019.
The Yankees could still use a No. 2 starter in this rotation beyond 2021, even if Corey Kluber continues to throw things back to the good old days and Luis Severino returns with a vengeance.
This year, though? Not sure there’s a worse No. 2 in the game than Castillo, and it could’ve cost our ever-improving shortstop, who’s been putting in the work with both the glove and the bat.