We’ll never get the official line of thinking behind why the Mariners were willing to give up who they gave up to bring in Luis Castillo for 1 year and 2 months worth of baseball. Not unless one of our executives joins up with the Bellevue Rotary Club for another recorded Internet chat.
The general line of thinking, however, among reasoned baseball people (i.e. not fans and their reactionary rhetoric) is: this is why you build up your farm system. The whole point of doing a rebuild is to stock your farm system full of talent. That’s step 1. Step 2 involves evaluating that talent and marking down who is among the priority guys you want to keep and build around. So, here we are, in the dog days of 2022, and we’ve already (more or less) completed both of those first steps. We brought in prospects, to the point that over this past offseason, we were considered to have either the best or one of the best farm systems in all of baseball. And, meanwhile, over the last couple years, we’ve gone and evaluated all those guys, not to mention the guys who were already at the Major League level. We came to realize Julio is the real deal and a superstar in the making. We brought up Logan Gilbert, then George Kirby, and have earmarked them as rotation mainstays. We locked in J.P. Crawford and will probably soon do the same for Ty France. We’re starting to see quality production out of Cal Raleigh, who looks like a starter in this league for years to come. Then, we went and signed the reigning Cy Young winner (Robbie Ray) to lead our rotation.
I should say that the Mariners aren’t a completed product yet. They’re not the Asstros or Yankees. There’s still a lot of building left to do if we want to be among the best of the best. But, we’re on the right track, which is why this is the perfect time to get to Step 3, which is using the leftover prospects to trade for legitimate stars and starters to come in and help your big league club succeed in the post-season.
And the thing I wonder – the thing we’ll never get a straight answer to – is how much did it hurt Jerry Dipoto to give away the players he gave away? The Mariners, theoretically, SHOULD have the best idea about how good these guys will be. They’ve been in our organization, we’ve watched them every day, we’ve gotten to know them as people. We know their work ethic, we know their strengths and weaknesses at least a little bit better than anyone else. And, frankly, we know their medicals better than anyone else, so we’d know if there’s some underlying concern that might spring up down the road.
I often bitch about the Yankees because it seems like whenever they trade away a highly-rated player, it turns out that guy’s a bust. Yet, we KNOW they’re fully capable of drafting and developing among the best in the game. But, they seem to also be among the best at properly rating their prospects (even as the rest of the league over-rates them). But, you know, I’m not looking at every deal they’ve ever made. I’m sure they have gaffes just like everyone does.
But, I know the Mariners, and they’ve got a long line of lopsided trades against them (or, at the very least, trades that worked out for NEITHER side).
The general consensus is – at the moment – that the Reds got a great haul of prospects back. I wouldn’t say the Mariners got fleeced, but we’ll see; if Castillo gets hurt, or struggles, then sure. Or, if the prospects pan out and turn into All Stars, then yeah, you could argue a fleecing has occurred. But, right now, I would say it’s tilted in Cincinnati’s favor, while at the same time it’s understandable that the Mariners did what they did.
And, not for nothing, but they did it NOT just for the best starting pitcher available, but one of the very best starting pitchers period. If I’m going to trade away a bundle of highly-rated prospects, I’d like to know I’m at least getting the cream of the crop. Don’t waste my time on middling starters; I want fucking superstars!
Part of me holds out hope, though, that Jerry Dipoto is quietly giggling at what we gave up. That he knows better. Maybe Marte has some holes in his swing that will rear their ugly heads when he gets to the Major League level. Maybe Arroyo’s bat has been built up more than it’ll actually end up being. Maybe the reliever’s got future shoulder problems, and maybe the starter is just a guy.
Maybe the REAL studs in our prospect group are still down there, waiting to be elevated and turned into superstar Mariners at some point down the line.
None of these questions can be answered now. All we can do is speculate. It matters what Castillo does over the next year and change. It matters how the Mariners play around him. Winning baseball games, in the regular and post-season, is what matters.
If the Mariners fail, then we’ll turn our sights to Cincinnati and see what it is we ultimately gave up. It’ll be YEARS before we comprehend the full magnitude of what happened. Luis Castillo, likely, won’t even be here by the time most of those prospects see the big leagues!
All we can do is hope for the best, while dreading the worst, because we’re Mariners fans, and that’s all we ever get. The fucking worst.