Florida Miami Marlins have had an interesting existence in Major League Baseball. Since 1993, the Marlins have only finished with a winning record in six of their 27 seasons. In two of those years, they made the playoffs as a wild card team and won the World Series both times. In the other years, multiple owners have failed to sell baseball – and tickets – to a city that is hungry for baseball and for a winning product. Wayne Huizenga, John Henry, Jeffrey Loria and the current ownership group, led by Derek Jeter, have sold off any good players that have come through the organization by trading them for close to nothing, and have continually broken the baseball hopes and dreams for South Florida fans.
One of those good players that they traded away twice is Luis Castillo.
Castillo was born on December 12th, 1992 in the Dominican Republic in the town of Bani. At the ripe age of 19, he signed as an international free agent with the San Francisco Giants, and started with their Dominican Summer League affiliate, eventually moving up to single-A with the Augusta Greenjackets in 2014. That offseason, Castillo was traded from the Giants to the Marlins for a then 32-year-old third baseman.
After spending time in single-A and double-A with the Marlins, he was initially traded to the San Diego Padres in a six-player deal. After trade counterpart Colin Rea was injured in his first outing in the Marlins organization, he was returned to the Padres, and Castillo went back to the Marlins. He pitched well enough after the trade to earn a spot on the 40-man roster in that offseason, and looked to be a promising prospect in the Marlins organization. The Marlins had other plans.
Dan Straily was claimed off waivers by the Cincinnati Reds as the 2016 season started, and was a good addition to a bad team. In his only season as a Red, Straily had a career year, going 14-8 with a 3.76 ERA in 191.1 innings. His 113 ERA+ and 1.186 WHIP were also career bests, and he was a welcome surprise that year. The Reds had dusted off a decent pitcher who could be a solid part of their rotation during their rebuild.
The Marlins had a young, exciting team in 2016, and they were set up for sustained success for the first time in franchise history. Unfortunately, star pitcher Jose Fernandez passed away in September. He was the future ace of the Marlins, a homegrown prospect originally born in Cuba ready to break out onto the national stage. Tragically, though, he was gone.
Despite the absolutely crushing loss of Fernandez, the team still had a great young core. Future stars Christian Yelich, Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna and JT Realmuto were all young, and they were coming off of a 79-82 season in which they finished third in the NL East behind the wild card New York Mets and the Bryce Harper-led Washington Nationals. The Marlins wanted to add more pitching in 2017, and they went shopping for a starter.
On January 12th, 2017, they found one. They acquired Dan Straily from the Cincinnati Reds. In return, they sent Austin Brice, Zeek White and Luis Castillo back to Cincinnati.
Let’s fast forward to today, as the Reds are in Dade County to play the Marlins in the second game of a four-game series. White is with the Dayton Dragons. Brice is back with the Marlins in their bullpen. Dan Straily was designated for assignment earlier this year by the Orioles, and is pitching in the minors with the Phillies organization. And for little ol’ Luis Castillo? He’s just starting for the Redlegs against his former club after being named an All Star and a Cy Young candidate earlier this season.
In two and a half years in Cincinnati, Castillo is 25-24 with a 3.57 ERA in 72 starts so far. In 2019, he was named the Opening Day starter and has not disappointed. He’s currently 12-5 with a 3.04 ERA, a strikeouts/nine rate of 10.5, and also has one of the filthiest changeups in baseball. He’s only 26 and is under team control until 2024. He’s got the potential to be on the level of his childhood hero, Pedro Martinez, and the Reds got him for the price of Dan Straily.
Castillo doesn’t take it lightly about being traded either. He told Bob Nightengale earlier this year, “When I pitch against those teams now, I want to pitch so well against them. You feel that inside when I face them. I want to be perfect.’’ Against the Marlins, he has been near perfect. In three starts, he is currently 2-0 with a 0.39 ERA, 19 strikeouts and only 3 walks. Marlins hitters have a .139 BAA on Castillo. Luckily for them, he only gets to dominate them twice a year. We should still be thankful, though.
For their generosity, we want to send them a thank you card, and we want your help! Fill out this form (https://forms.gle/UqvNd4qc9kFF9cXm6) with your name and a thank you note, and we will send them an actual thank you card with all of your notes.
Thank you, Miami, for Luis Castillo. We appreciate your generosity.