It doesn’t appear Tigers right fielder Nicholas Castellanos is going to get a contract extension before the July 31 trade deadline, which means the impending free agent is likely to find himself in another uniform by Aug. 1. Castellanos said in March, a few weeks before the season started, that he and the Tigers hadn’t engaged in extension talks. That may have been true at the time, but it turns out the two sides regarded a new contract as “likely” for a short period in the spring, Chris McCosky of the Detroit News reports.
The length and value of the extension the Tigers and Castellanos thought they’d strike are unknown, but it was the team that “pulled back,” per McCosky. Castellanos hired the Boras Corporation to represent him April 19, and it doesn’t seem as if the Tigers and the agency have had any meaningful talks since then.
Considering Detroit made a spirited effort to trade Castellanos in the offseason, it’s not surprising the rebuilding club was reluctant to pull the trigger on an extension in the spring. Castellanos’ previous agent even publicly stated in January that his client would prefer a trade, though general manager Al Avila couldn’t net an offer to his liking. Avila admitted then that trying to find a taker for Castellanos had been “frustrating.”
Seven months later, the frustration has likely persisted for Avila in regards to Castellanos. The 27-year-old’s offense has gotten rolling of late after a slow start to the season, but he hasn’t done much to boost his trade stock. Castellanos is a good hitter who doesn’t offer much in the field, which has been the case since he broke out at the plate in 2016. Through 366 plate appearances this season, Castellanos has slashed .282/.342/.468 (113 wRC+) with nine home runs. Notably, there’s almost almost no gap between his weighted on-base average (.344) and expected wOBA (.346).
Diligent work to improve as an outfielder actually has paid off to a degree for Castellanos, though he has still only managed minus-5 Defensive Runs Saved, minus-5 Outs Above Average and a minus-4.0 Ultimate Zone Rating in the grass in 2019. The former third baseman’s best fit, at least if a playoff-contending team acquires him for the stretch run, may be as a designated hitter. The trouble is that Castellanos’ output this year hasn’t been much better than that of an average DH (110 wRC+).
Given his flaws, Castellanos is unlikely to fetch much for the Tigers prior to the deadline. Assuming a trade does come together, though, Castellanos will be on track to reach free agency after the season with zero chance of a qualifying offer hurting his earning power. Once he hits the open market, Castellanos will try to build on the $9.95MM he’s making this season.