Three times since mid-July, the 2022 New York Yankees have come face to face with Luis Castillo and lost. Four, actually, if you count the Yankees missing out on acquiring Castillo altogether.
The most remarkable part? Fate’s cruel glue forced the Yankees and Castillo together in three separate games over a condensed couple of weeks even though he’s only pitched for Cincinnati and Seattle, two teams they rarely encounter.
Before an eventful mid-July set, the Yanks hadn’t faced Cincy since 2017. When’s the last time they faced the west coast Ms six times in a nine-game stretch? Naturally, the universe waited for Castillo to head to Seattle before making this all possible.
Initially rumored to be the favorites to acquire the changeup-heavy superstar righty, the Yankees lost out in the end, outbid by a spectacular Mariners package featuring three of the team’s top five prospects and highlighted by agreed-upon top-10 prospect in MLB Noelvi Marte, a shortstop.
In order to acquire Castillo, New York would’ve had to surrender Anthony Volpe, their possible future leader in the middle infield. Most analysts agreed it was a move the Mariners had to make, considering their playoff drought, and the Yankees didn’t, considering their 67-33 record at the time of the deal.
Since that day, though, a string of increasingly demoralizing losses has dragged the Yankees down into the mud, turning a truly special season into a limp to the finish line. The Mariners? They’ve shoved Castillo in New York’s faces twice in a week, and it’s worked out fairly well for the aggressors both times.
Yankees lose to Luis Castillo 3 times in 4 weeks
Would surrendering Volpe have been a bitter pill to swallow? Of course. Asking for him clearly wasn’t an unfair standard or a “Yankees Tax” moment, though, considering the Mariners were willing to surrender a similar player from a position of depth.
The Yankees passing on acquiring Castillo was understandable in a vacuum, but watching a team get rewarded for desperation — and with front row seats, too — stings doubly after passing on Justin Verlander for similar reasons. “Good for Houston,” some Yankee fans probably thought in mid-2017. “It’s been a while for them. At least it’s not Boston. We’ll have our time.”
Five years later, and it’s been someone else’s time ever since.
Coming off a season where he led the National League in walks, Castillo appears to have tamed his arsenal, putting the Yankees to sleep three times in recent weeks with perfectly-spotted heat and well-executed changeups.
Whether the Yankees face Castillo in October or not is irrelevant. Once more at the deadline, Brian Cashman pushed forward on a collection of second choices rather than acquiring the crown jewel. The decision can be justified if you really believe in Volpe. But how many chances to go ring-chasing can one team pass on in favor of Frankie Montas and a stopgap shortstop in an offseason full of superstars?
Carlos Correa and Luis Castillo, or Anthony Volpe eventually?