With the July 31 deadline around the corner and the Tigers out of contention, soon-to-be free-agent right fielder Nicholas Castellanos ranks among their clearest trade chips. Castellanos’ Tigers tenure may end in a matter of weeks, which he seems to realize.
The 27-year-old Castellanos was candid Friday when speaking about his future with reporters (including Cody Stavenhagen of The Athletic and Evan Woodbery of MLive.com). Asked if he expects the Tigers to make an effort to extend him this season, Castellanos stated: “I don’t have a college education. But I can pick up the pieces and put a puzzle together. I’m not saying that this is 100% what it’s going to be, but if I’m a gambling man, I don’t see (the Tigers) offering me an extension at this point in time.”
Castellanos, a career-long Tiger who joined the franchise as the 44th pick in the 2010 draft, has surpassed the fading Miguel Cabrera as the team’s biggest offensive threat in recent years. Dating back to his 2016 breakout, Castellanos has slashed .282/.333/.489 (118 wRC+) with 74 home runs in 2,068 plate appearances. But Castellanos hasn’t matched his above-average offense with appealing defense, which is surely a key reason why rebuilding Detroit isn’t interested in keeping him around for the long haul. Castellanos’ defensive limitations will also prove deleterious on the trade market, where the Tigers may not get much for him, and when he hits free agency in the offseason.
Castellanos was a third baseman at the outset of his major league career, but after posting minus-64 Defensive Runs Saved at the hot corner from 2014-17, the Tigers moved him to the outfield. That experiment hasn’t gone well either, as Castellanos has added another minus-30 DRS in fewer than 2,000 innings of action. In fairness to Castellanos, his 2019 defensive numbers – while still not in the plus category – far outweigh last year’s brutal output.
Eventually, Castellanos may be a candidate to shift to first base. He rejected a move there late in 2018 when the Tigers requested it, as Woodbery notes, but would have been willing to make the switch had they tried to extend him.
“I told them, if you offer me an extension and show me that I’m a piece of the future, I’ll play first,” he said. “I’ll even throw bullpens for you. But give me that security.”
It’s clear Castellanos isn’t going to receive the “security” he’s seeking from the Tigers. His run in Detroit figures to conclude this summer as a result.