The Rays have at least “checked in” with the Tigers regarding outfielder Nicholas Castellanos, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network (via Twitter). That said, there’s no indication that the sides are particularly close to making a deal.
We’ve heard plenty about Tampa Bay’s interest in various pitching targets, but the club is also clearly angling for a new righty bat. The organization was connected yesterday to Hunter Pence, who’d be a cheaper alternative to the younger Castellanos as a DH and part-time corner outfielder.
It’s clear that the Detroit organization is willing to discuss Castellanos in trade talks. The 27-year-old is earning $9.95MM this year before reaching the open market at season’s end. For a rebuilding club, there’s little reason to hold on to such a player unless there’s a strong chance he’d receive and decline a qualifying offer.
Castellanos has turned things on of late and has been about 20% better than the league-average hitter for the past four seasons. His youth is another feather in his cap. On the other hand, Castellanos’s defensive shortcomings are well-documented. While he has improved, metrics still view him as a clear negative and Statcast measures are less-than promising. It’d be a bit surprising to see the Tigers planning to issue a QO, as it’d be tough for Castellanos to say no given his inherent market limitations.
That being said, it could be that other organizations aren’t overly concerned with the fielding questions. Castellanos has reportedly drawn interest from two National League organizations — the Phillies and Cubs — that wouldn’t be able to hide his bat in the DH slot. That creates at least some market competition to help the Tigers pry something of value in return, though the team’s best hope for a significant prospect haul would be for multiple American League clubs to decide that Castellanos is an impact bat worth acquiring as a full-time DH.