MIAMI (AP) – The Florida Marlins’ payroll purge left a gaping hole at second base Friday when they traded Luis Castillo to the Minnesota Twins for two pitching prospects.

The departure of Castillo, a three-time All-Star and the Marlins’ career leader in six major categories, was the latest move by the franchise to cut costs after repeated bids for a new ballpark failed.

Slugger Carlos Delgado, ace Josh Beckett and third baseman Mike Lowell were traded last week, and center fielder Juan Pierre and catcher Paul Lo Duca are on the block.

Minnesota gave up right-handers Travis Bowyer and Scott Tyler. The Marlins plan to use the hard-throwing Bowyer in the bullpen next season, while Tyler will begin the year in their minor league system, general manager Larry Beinfest said.

The deal appealed to the Twins because they had a surplus of pitching prospects and a need for more offense from the infield. The switch-hitting Castillo, 30, batted .301 last season, including a major league-best .423 against left-handers, and won his third consecutive Gold Glove. “He certainly fills a lot of the attributes we were looking for this winter,” Twins general manager Terry Ryan said. “He’s got a lot of the things that anybody would want on their ballclub.”

Castillo has spent his entire career in the Marlins organization since signing in 1992. He’s their all-time leader in games played (1,128), runs (675), hits (1,273), triples (42), walks (533) and stolen bases (281).

Limited this year by hip and quadriceps ailments, Castillo played in 122 games but stole only 10 bases in 17 attempts.

“He has been a tremendous player in this organization for a long time,” Beinfest said. “It’s obviously a tough trade to make, but necessary given our market correction to our payroll.”

With no new stadium on the horizon in South Florida, team president David Samson announced last week that the Marlins would dramatically reduce their payroll, which was $60 million at the start of the 2005 season. He also said the team will consider moving after the 2007 season, with Las Vegas and Portland, Ore., among the candidates. Castillo’s contract calls for him to make $5 million next season and contains a $5.75 million club option for 2007 with a $500,000 buyout. The deal also includes a $2 million signing bonus deferred until one year after the contract ends.

With three trades since last week, Florida has cut about $32 million from next year’s payroll. On Thanksgiving Day, Florida received seven prospects by trading Delgado to the New York Mets and sending Lowell and Beckett to Boston.

More moves are possible at the winter meetings next week in Dallas. “Obviously we have been very active,” Beinfest said. “I would anticipate as we head to Dallas we’re going to remain active.”

Departing via free agency will be pitcher A.J. Burnett and right fielder Juan Encarnacion. Shortstop Alex Gonzalez, closer Todd Jones and infielder-outfielder Jeff Conine – long known as “Mr. Marlin” also may sign elsewhere.

Left-hander Dontrelle Willis and slugger Miguel Cabrera are the only players from the 2003 World Series championship team likely to still be with the Marlins next opening day.

Gonzalez and Castillo had been together since 1998, longer than any other active double-play combination. Florida may swing a deal to acquire a replacement for Castillo, Beinfest said.

“I would not rule out looking at a reasonable free agent or a trade to fill the second base spot,” he said.

The Marlins’ so-called fire sale is their second in eight years. Former owner Wayne Huizenga ordered a payroll purge after the team won the 1997 World Series, and prospects acquired in subsequent deals helped Florida win the title again in 2003 under current owner Jeffrey Loria.

Now Florida is again loading up on prospects for new manager Joe Girardi.

“He’s going to have an energetic young team,” Beinfest said.

Bowyer, 24, went 0-1 with a 5.59 ERA in eight games with the Twins this past season, after going 4-2 with 23 saves and a 2.78 ERA in 59 games at Triple-A Rochester. He went 0-2 with one save and a 9.39 ERA in 10 games for Grand Canyon in the Arizona Fall League.

Tyler, 23, went 7-8 with a 3.95 ERA in 23 starts with Single-A Fort Myers.

AP Sports Writer Dave Campbell in Minneapolis contributed to this report.

AP-ES-12-02-05 1755EST

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.