ESPN’s Passan: ‘Logical next step’ for Mariners is locking up Luis Castillo

Sep 1, 2022, 12:01 AM

Mariners Luis Castillo...

Luis Castillo of the Seattle Mariners reacts against the Cleveland Guardians at T-Mobile Park on August 27, 2022. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

With the Mariners locking up superstar rookie outfielder Julio Rodríguez to a megadeal that’s unlike anything baseball has ever seen, the big question is who’s next?

ESPN’s Passan: Why Mariners’ deal with Julio Rodríguez is so significant

Seattle has quite a few players the team could consider locking up, such as All-Star first baseman Ty France, slugging outfielder Mitch Haniger – who is a pending free agent – or perhaps catcher Cal Raleigh, who has been excellent behind the plate and is tied for the American League lead in home runs by a catcher with 19 in just 96 games.

But what about the arms?

The Mariners have two very talented young right-handed starting pitchers in second-year hurler Logan Gilbert and standout rookie George Kirby. Would it make sense for the Mariners to get those two signed for the long-term even though Gilbert and Kirby can’t hit free agency until 2028 and 2029, respectively, at the earliest?

Here’s what ESPN MLB insider Jeff Passan had to say about the Mariners and their pitching during his weekly visit with The Mike Salk Show on Seattle Sports 710 AM.

“It’s just such a different dynamic with pitchers,” Passan said of the Mariners locking up Gilbert or Kirby. “Like, there are no mega-contracts for young pitchers. To get paid – like paid paid if you’re a pitcher – you need to go to free agency. So we’re not going to see anything (like what the team did with Rodríguez).”

Rookie George Kirby’s recent run for Mariners should have your attention

There is a pitcher on the team who Passan thinks could get a big payday from the Mariners in the near future, though. That would be Luis Castillo, the Mariners’ prized trade deadline addition who earned his second All-Star nod this season and has posted a 2.84 ERA in five starts for Seattle since the trade.

“I think he’s the logical guy at this point, the logical next step,” Passan said.

Castillo is signed not just for the remainder of this season but all of 2023, as well. He turns 30 in December and will be 31 when he takes the mound at the start of 2024 on his next contract.

So what would a deal for Castillo look like?

“I think you’re looking at Joe Musgrove-plus. Musgrove signed a five-year, $100 million extension with San Diego and he gave them a little hometown discount,” Passan said. “I think Castillo in the Robbie Ray range would probably make some sense.”

Ray, of course, is the other frontline starter the Mariners have acquired in the last calendar year. The 2021 American League Cy Young Award winner signed a five-year contract with the Mariners this past free agency cycle worth $115 million. The deal also includes an opt-out for Ray after the third year (2024).

That kind of deal makes sense for the Mariners in the near future, Passan said, unlike anything for Kirby or Gilbert.

“With Gilbert, with Kirby, you wait longer, I think. That, to me, is more of a deal where you’re probably trying to get it done a year or two down the road and buy out a couple of years of free agency at that point rather than do it this early in their careers,” he said. “Typically when you see pitchers sign this early in their careers, it’s guys who aren’t potentially elite like Kirby and like Gilbert.”

Listen to the full conversation with Passan at this link or in the player below.

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Team: mariners

Brock and Salk podcast

Brock and Salk podcast

Date Starting Pitcher
Friday, June 9 @ 6:38 pm Mariners' Luis Castillo RHP vs. Angels' Shohei Ohtani RHP

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Rain Showers Likely
High 59° | Low 52°
Mariners are on the road.
Mariners at Angels today at 6:38pm

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ESPN’s Passan: ‘Logical next step’ for Mariners is locking up Luis Castillo