The Detroit Tigers are facing a tough situation with slugging outfielder Nicholas Castellanos, who has drawn interest from the Astros in the past.
Detroit Tigers general manager Al Avila has a variety of players he could look to deal this offseason. While we profiled three pitchers who are prime trade candidates, the biggest position player who could be dealt is star outfielder Nick Castellanos.
Castellanos is coming off another excellent season, slashing .298/.354/.500 with 23 home runs, 89 RBI, a 130 wRC+ and a 3.0 fWAR. He is one of the premier hitting outfielders in the American League, and his bat will command some attention on the open market.
Unfortunately, there is a lot holding his trade value back, as Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press notes. He is only under team control through 2019, so teams would only be trading for one-year of Castellanos, or a half-year if the Tigers choose to deal him in July. Additionally, his defense is still horrendous in the outfield, which limits his trade value – and could push him into a DH role with a new team.
All this points to a similar situation to the J.D. Martinez trade from two summers ago, when the Tigers were forced to settle for a less than ideal return for the slugger simply because there weren’t many options.
Hopefully, shopping Castellanos over the winter might drum up more interest and could help bring in a more desirable return. One team that showed interest in the slugger last summer, and could be interested in him yet again, is the Houston Astros.
Casty to the Astros
The Astros are losing Evan Gattis to free agency, which opens up a spot at designated hitter. They could also use more help in the outfield, with George Springer, Josh Reddick and Kyle Tucker expected to be the starters. Tucker is a rookie and Reddick is a bit past his prime, so Castellanos would immediately become a big part of Houston’s offense.
Instead, I think the Detroit Tigers could target a mid-tier position prospect and maybe one or two lower ranked prospects in return. A few names to consider:
J.J. Matijevic – Outfield (MLB Pipeline: 20)
Matijevic is a toolsy outfielder who posted 22 home runs and 13 stolen bases between A and A+ last season. He was a competitive balance pick in 2017, and has shown glimpses of being a future big league regular in his brief time in the minors. Most feel he’ll be a fourth outfielder, but the tools are worth gambling on.
Abraham Toro-Hernandez – Third Base (MLB Pipeline: 21)
Toro was a fifth rounder in 2016 who has shown versatility, playing catcher and second base in addition to his time at third. While he may not be the next Craig Biggio, he did hit 16 home runs last season and has shown excellent plate discipline in his minor league career.
Brandon Bailey – Pitcher (MLB Pipeline: 28)
Bailey is a 24-year-old starter who has posted excellent strikeout numbers throughout the minors, despite his small stature. As such, his future is likely in the bullpen. However, his strong spin rate on his heater and excellent changeup could make him a Drew VerHagen type middle reliever, which is never a bad thing for the Tigers to target as a secondary piece in a trade.
Alex McKenna – Outfielder (MLB Pipeline: 30)
McKenna crushed the ball his final season at Cal Poly, posting a .339/.424/.506 line. He was taken in the fourth round by the Astros and although he struck out quite a bit, he showed a balanced swing that should develop more power as he goes on. He would be a great piece to target and stash in the minors.
Overall, a package with Toro, Bailey and a lower level minor league piece could be a nice haul for one year of Castellanos. It stings to get rid of a slugger in his prime, but trading Castellanos is the right decision if Avila and the Detroit Tigers front office cannot reach an extension with the star outfielder.