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This marks the second time that Luis Castillo has been traded, as he was originally in the Andrew Cashner deal but was sent from San Diego back to Miami after Colin Rea had elbow problems. Suffice it to say that Castillo has been targeted by many teams because of the things he's done well. His fastball is a true 80-grade pitch, and while it lacks plane or movement the velocity plays deep into games and has touched 101 mph in spurts. Though he lacks premium command, he has above-average control of it and can consistently get ahead of hitters.
Castillo's slider can be slurvy and inconsistent but has flashed plus at times, with hard tilt and bite. The changeup has some fade with deceptive arm speed, but it's a clear third pitch as he did not sell it. While older for the level (and overall), Castillo is still a legitimate prospect who could put it together quickly as a late-inning reliever (think Hansel Robles) or a potential mid-rotation starter with a longer developmental path.
Austin Brice is a big league-ready reliever who will show you a plus fastball and two potential above-average breaking balls. While his control did seem to come around as a starter, his future role is as a reliever given his poor command. Even with the amount of walks Brice has issued, the past two years have seen his ground-ball percentage rise to pair with his high K/9, which gives weight to the belief that it can all work at Great American Small Park.
Isaiah White was the Marlins' third rounder in 2015, showcasing a projectable frame to go with plus running ability and surprising pull-side power. The hit tool has some flaws, as he currently has trouble recognizing spin and can dive over the plate. While he is a plus runner, he’s a raw defender and his below-average arm could lead him to playing left field more often than center as he progresses. White is an interesting third piece for the Reds, showing an intriguing power/speed combination at present, but with a lot of potential flaws that could hinder him. —Steve Givarz
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Acquired RHP Dan Straily from Cincinnati Reds in exchange for RHP Luis Castillo, RHP Austin Brice, and OF-R Isaiah White. [1/19]
Hope is a wonderful thing, but there are days in which it runs out. For Dan Straily and I, it was on this day, about one year ago:
Getting traded for Erik Kratz is a great sign that you’ve outlived your hype. Among us sabermetric types, there were a few years in which we imagined that Straily could pop up as a mid-rotation starter off the strength of his high-strikeout 2012 and 2013 runs with Oakland. If you’re waiting for Straily to “break out,” stop. We’re past that point now.
We should also recognize that after 2016, Straily’s a worthwhile big-league starter, even if he’s never going to turn into Corey Kluber. His second full season in the majors closely resembled his first (nevermind that those two seasons were separated by four franchises and 900 days). He was the workhorse of the Reds’ rotation, if not the most talented arm of the bunch. His arsenal is relatively vanilla, using a standard fastball to set up his swing-and-miss slider and change.
But with the Reds in desperate need of functional arms, Straily had the opportunity to throw every fifth day and he made the most of his opportunity. Despite many fly balls—far too many of which left the Great American Ballpark—he kept his ERA to a respectable 3.76. Of course, that’s not the best predictor of future success; his true talent level is probably something closer to his 4.61 DRA. That’s the marker of a back-of-the-rotation starter, albeit a relatively reliable and therefore valuable one.
For whatever reason* he’s a strikeout-per-inning guy at Triple-A but not the same guy in the big leagues. In the majors, he’s just okay—a thrower capable of logging a full season’s worth of starts at slightly below-average rates. We’re doing our best to parse how valuable that is; his WARP says that he was almost a two-win pitcher last season despite iffy peripherals. The Marlins, perhaps more than any other team in baseball, are desperate for the average-ish innings that Straily and his beard can provide.
(*The reason is because the jump from Triple-A to the majors is hard.)
Miami is a team that's going to have to make their hay in the late innings if they’re to succeed, and Straily’s the type of pitcher that can get them into their Tazawa-Ziegler-Barraclough-Ramos ‘pen without too much damage. (In fact, “acceptable” is the only class of starting pitcher that they have.) The big question is whether the Marlins are making a wise choice in giving up what they did for Straily and the innings he provides. Luis Castillo is a legit prospect, a commodity in short supply down Miami way. If it was just Castillo for Straily, it might be a defensible deal for a team looking to shift the window of contention, even though the Marlins are giving up years of control and the upside play here.
It’s just that the window of contention is probably one of those miniature basement windows where you need to squeeze to try to climb out. Do the Marlins rate as a playoff team when Straily as the no. 2 or no. 3 starter behind Wei-Yin Chen and Edinson Volquez? That’s hard to imagine. Like I said before, hope is a wonderful thing. This is the type of move that might be a nice final piece of the puzzle for a team looking to make the leap, but like Straily’s hopes of being the next Jacob deGrom, we might want to put the Marlins’ chances for 2017 to bed. —Bryan Grosnick
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