Earlier today the Mets traded two of their C level prospects, Dustin Martin and Drew Butera, for Twins 2b Luis Castillo. I don't hate the trade, but I don't like the trade as I believe that it will not make the Mets a better team. In the words of the late, not so great A. Anthony Miller, I couldn't be more underwhelmed. To put it simply, Castillo isn't that good of a baseball player. Yes, he is still an above average glove, but he is no longer the base stealing threat he once was. I'm not saying that he has the legs of Lt. Dan, but he has only swiped 9 bases this year while battling through various lower extremity ailments. This is certainly not a good sign since his best tool is speed. Furthermore, this guy slugs worse than Mark Gastineau in a non-fixed boxing match. In fact, this year his slugging percentage (.352) is lower than his on base percentage(.356)...excuse me while I raise a red flag of concern. In the past, his lack of slugging was offset by his propensity for stealing bases, but a 90 OPS+ without swiping a lot of bags does not cut it in my book.
The combined production of a Damion Easley (.266/.339/.438) and Ruben Go Go Gotay (.350/.382/.504) platoon outweighd the offensive and defensive contributions of Castillo. Even taking into account Gotay's inevitable regression towards the mean I still believe the platoon will be just as, if not more effective than Castillo. Gotay's slugging is not a complete aberration. He OPS'd over .800 in his first several stops in the minors and after watching him the past few months he seems to have some nice pop in his pat and a strong approach at the plate. His career arch resembles that of Brandon Phillips....something to keep in mind. Also, since Castillo is not a long term solution (he turns 32 in a month and his OBP and speed numbers have declined the last two seasons) I would like to see if Gotay is capable of handling the position on a full-time basis.
But what about playoff experience? Luis Castillo has plenty it, you say. That has to mean something! I'll leave that intangible-laden discussion up to the Wallace Matthews' and Murray Chass' of the world, but baseball is baseball. If you can hit a ball in the regular season you can hit it in the magical realm known as the playoffs. But unfortunately it becomes the old catch-22 where you can't get the job if you don't have experience, but you can't get experience unless you get the job. Gotay is in this quandary. He is not considered playoff tested, so the Mets want to go with a known quantity (with a lower ceiling), but how is a guy like Gotay supposed to earn his stripes if he can't catch a whiff of playoff playing time after OPS+'ing 136 from the 2B spot?
On the positive side, the Mets get Castillo for next to nothing. Butera and Martin were not on any top prospect list I've read and neither puts up numbers that would endear themselves to sabermetricians. I sincerely doubt either will ever help out the Twins in anyway, so if the Mets get anything positive out of Castillo, they get the better of the trade. Additionally, if Castillo, who is a free agent to be, walks after the season the Mets would gain a 2nd round compensatory draft pick. Said pick will hopefully be used to pick a player with more upside than either Butera or Martin (Please Omar, no more relievers!!).
In sum, Castillo is not a very valuable baseball player anymore and the platoon of Easley/Gotay at the very least is just as productive as Castillo, so the trade is pretty much meaningless.