The Detroit Tigers are for sure going to be sellers as the trade deadline approaches, but one potentially valuable trade asset for Detroit is in a tricky spot.
If the Detroit Tigers and Nicholas Castellanos had a Facebook relationship status, it’s fair to say that right now things would be listed as “it’s complicated.” Cheesy jokes aside, the dynamic between the Tigers organization and Castellanos has seemed testy since before the season began and is likely to become a subject of conversation once again as the July 31st trade deadline nears.
With the Detroit Tigers and the outfielder not reaching a deal on an extension in the spring before the season began, despite coming close according to Chris McCosky of The Detroit News, Castellanos is set to hit free agency after this year.
As Castellanos approaches free agency, the logical step should be Al Avila finding a trade partner willing to take Castellanos as a rent-a-player for the remainder of the season. However, with other Tigers like Shane Greene and Matthew Boyd collecting much of the trade rumor spotlight in Detroit recently, it feels like the market for Castellanos might be limited.
Joel Reuter of Bleacher Report listed Castellanos as one of his potential “losers” of the MLB trade deadline on Friday. Reuter’s reasoning behind this is largely due to the possibility that the Tigers could receive a compensatory late first-round draft pick by holding onto Castellanos for the season and then letting him walk in free agency. Unless a trade offer came in with a more enticing return than that potential draft pick, it might make sense for Detroit and Castellanos to just ride out the year together.
The whole compensatory draft pick situation sounds intriguing, and unless a team is really desperate to add another bat while making a playoff push, it could be the best option for both sides. Teams like the Dodgers and Braves have been mentioned in some light rumors as possibly being interested in Castellanos, but the return Avila could get for a pending free agent might not be as lucrative as he is looking for.
This Castellanos situation seems reminiscent of that of J.D. Martinez back in 2017, as the Tigers dealt the pending free agent Martinez to the Arizona Diamondbacks in return for three prospects, including Dawel Lugo. Martinez did help Arizona reach the postseason that year, where they were swept by the Dodgers in the NLDS and Martinez went on to sign in free agency with the Boston Red Sox.
With the situation being similar, then maybe a fringe playoff team like the Philadelphia Phillies might be willing to give up a few decent prospects in order to acquire Castellanos’ bat to help make a push for October. At this point, however, the chances of finding an outstanding offer for Castellanos feel like they are becoming slimmer by the day.
Castellanos has had a solid year at the plate so far hitting .282 with 34 RBI, helping out the Detroit Tigers’ struggling offense. Numbers like that and the fact that Castellanos is sometimes a defensive liability in the outfield, however, may not be enough for some teams to justify giving up good prospects in return for a rental player. Right now, it feels to me like the Tigers and Nick Castellanos might just have to ride this one out together.