Reds righty Luis Castillo and A’s righty Frankie Montas are not and never have been teammates, but their trade markets have been near inextricably linked dating back to the offseason. That’s understandable, given the similarities between them. The 29-year-olds are separated by just three months in age, by about $2MM in salary and are both controlled through the end of the 2023 season. Statistically, they’re nearly identical — although Castillo has handled the larger workload in recent years. Both pitch for clubs that were more focused on cutting payroll and stashing prospects than on putting together a 2022 winner. As such, both are obvious trade candidates (and have been since the winter).
The Cardinals, Mariners and Yankees have been the three most aggressive teams on the Montas/Castillo front, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports, with the Twins, Blue Jays and Padres each also in the fold to varying extents. Jon Heyman of the New York Post also hears the Yankees are involved on both hurlers and calls adding a starter “a priority” for New York.
Bolstering the rotation is similarly going to be a key objective for St. Louis. The Cardinals have lost Jack Flaherty and Steven Matz to injury in recent weeks. Flaherty is already on the 60-day injured list and will be out until at least late August due to a shoulder strain. Matz tore the MCL in his left knee over the weekend. John Denton of MLB.com wrote a few days ago that Matz was optimistic about avoiding season-ending surgery, but he’s expected to be sidelined into September even if he can rehab without going under the knife.
The Cardinals also faced a rotation shortage at last summer’s deadline. They addressed that rather modestly, acquiring veterans Jon Lester and J.A. Happ as strike-throwing stabilizers at the back of the rotation. Robert Murray of FanSided reported last night the front office was looking for a higher-impact hurler than a Lester/Happ type this year, and a pursuit of Castillo and/or Montas certainly aligns with that assessment. Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, meanwhile, writes that the Cardinals have explored the market for both impending free agents and starters with multiple remaining seasons of club control.
New York, meanwhile, recently lost Luis Severino to the injured list on account of a lat strain. New York welcomed back Domingo Germán to take his rotation spot, but there’s not a ton of proven healthy depth beyond their top five. The Yankees have also seen righty Jameson Taillon scuffle of late, leaving them scouring the market for additional help. Like the Cardinals, they seem to be casting a wide net. In addition to high-impact hurlers in the Castillo/Montas range, they’ve also been linked to Pittsburgh’s José Quintana, who’d be a lower-cost depth pickup at the back end.
As for the Mariners, they have a range of areas they can add over the next six days. The M’s just wrapped up a sweep of the Rangers to pull to 54-45. They’re ten games back of the Astros in the AL West but in possession of the American League’s second Wild Card spot. They’re three games clear of the Guardians, the non-playoff team with the best record in the league.
With a strong opportunity to snap a playoff drought that has lasted more than two decades, the Mariners are in position to seek impact talent. Seattle entered play Wednesday with the sixth-lowest rotation ERA (3.65) in the majors. They’re middle-of-the-pack from a strikeout/walk perspective, however, with both Chris Flexen and Marco Gonzales posting below-average strikeout rates. There are also possible innings concerns for highly-touted rookie George Kirby, who has already tallied 96 frames this season between the minors and big leagues. That’s above the 67 2/3 innings he logged in the upper minors last year, so there’s certainly room for another starter to relieve some of the pressure on Kirby down the stretch and for what the club hopes will be a postseason run.