Outfielder Nicholas Castellanos is only about a week into his Cubs tenure, but Patrick Mooney of The Athletic (subscription link) wonders if the free agent-to-be will work his way into the team’s plans past this season. Castellanos has excelled at the plate over a rather small sample of work as a Cub, and as Mooney explains, the former Tiger has taken a liking to his new franchise. While the 27-year-old Castellanos will be one of the top hitters in the upcoming winter’s free-agent class, a lack of defensive value figures to limit his earning power. The price could be palatable enough for the Cubs to retain him, but it wouldn’t be ideal that Castellanos would have to remain a full-time outfielder in a DH-less league.
More from the NL…
- The Padres don’t expect the shoulder tightness that forced right-hander Garrett Richards from his latest rehab start to require an MRI, per Jeff Sanders on the San Diego Union-Tribune. “We’ll see how it responds over the coming week to treatment and when he picks up a ball in the near future,” manager Andy Green said of Richards. If all goes well, the former Angel could debut with the Padres sometime before this season ends. The Padres signed Richards to a two-year, $15.5MM contract last winter just a few months after he underwent Tommy John surgery.
- Prized Pirates righty Mitch Keller is likely to return to the majors for a start next Tuesday, Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette suggests. The 23-year-old is one of the game’s highest-ranked pitching prospects, but a three-start audition in the majors from May to June didn’t go well. Keller allowed 14 earned runs on 21 hits and six walks in a 12-inning span, though he did strike out 15 batters. And Keller has held his own this year in his debut in the offense-driven International League. In 103 2/3 innings with Triple-A Indianapolis, he has pitched to a 3.56 ERA/3.60 FIP with 10.68 K/9 and 3.04 BB/9.
- More on the Pirates from Mackey, who has the latest on injured outfielder Gregory Polanco and catcher Francisco Cervelli. Polanco, who hasn’t played since June 16 because of left shoulder problems, has received clearance to restart baseball activities. It’s still not clear when he might return to the Bucs, however. Polanco also sat out the first couple weeks of 2019 on account of his shoulder, which required season-ending surgery last September. Cervelli, trying to work back from a concussion that has shelved him since May 25, is progressing toward catching again this season. The concussion-prone Cervelli will first need “final clearances from our doctors, the commissioner’s office and the [MLBPA],” Pirates director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk said.