For La Piedra, it was the feeling of la familia that made him want to eschew the flexibility of his looming free agency and commit to the Mariners for the next five years and perhaps beyond.
Two days after announcing the signing of right-hander Luis Castillo to a five-year, $108 million contract, the Mariners held the formal news conference at T-Mobile Park to discuss the latest long-term commitment to a player.
"I'm just very happy that I'm finally able to join this family long term," Castillo said through interpreter Freddy Llanos. "I've got to give everything, all my heart. We're prepared to win the World Series. So let's get out there and do it."
Acquired by the Mariners from the Reds on July 30 for four minor league prospects, Castillo has made 10 starts for Seattle, posting a 3-2 record with a 3.34 ERA. In 59 1/3 innings, he's struck out 69 batters with 16 walks.
With four-plus pitches, including two variations of fastballs that reach 100 mph, a biting slider and swing-and-miss changeup, Castillo, 29, has moved to the top of the Mariners rotation and figures to be the No. 1 pitcher in a possible postseason appearance.
In 23 combined starts with Cincinnati and Seattle, posting a 7-6 record with a 2.85 ERA with 41 walks and 154 strikeouts. He was named to the National League All-Star team for the second time in his career.
"We acquired Luis, like we have built the rest of this roster with the idea that we were building something that we wanted to maintain over time," said Jerry Dipoto, Mariners president of baseball operations. "He is one of the best pitchers in baseball and has been for quite some time. What he's done since he's been with us in Seattle, reinforced for us that he fit. He goes by La Piedra for a reason."
La Piedra is Spanish for "the Rock."
"There is a presence to Luis every day when he steps out there that is good for our team," Dipoto said. "As we build a championship model moving forward, it's important to have players like that, players that carry that presence."
But it was something that Castillo said in English to Dipoto shortly before the news conference that he found reassuring in their decision.