The Detroit Tigers traded soon-to-be free agent Nicholas Castellanos to the Chicago Cubs during the 2019 season. He has yet to sign with any team for 2020.
For five and a half years, Nicholas Castellanos was a fixture in the Detroit Tigers’ lineup. He was a bright spot during some lean years: four seasons of at least an .800 OPS, five seasons of at least 30 doubles, and three seasons of over 20 home runs.
Yet as Tigers fans should have expected, his run with the team came to an end in the final moments before the 2019 MLB Trade Deadline, when the team traded him to the Chicago Cubs for two minor leaguers. Though Tigers fans appreciated his solid work with the team, it was inevitable that he’d be moving on with the team in full rebuild mode, especially since he was due to become a free agent at the end of the 2019 season.
Heading into this offseason, Castellanos was one of the biggest names to hit the free agent market. Yet just a few weeks before the start of spring training, he remains unsigned. Cubs fans fell in love with him after he caught fire following the trade, as he batted .321 with 21 doubles and 16 home runs in just 51 games; many believe he shifted into another gear when given the opportunity to play for a contending club.
Yet with the North Siders strapped for cash this offseason, it looks unlikely that he’ll be going back there. Several other teams have been rumored to be in on Castellanos, including the Rangers, Reds, White Sox, and even the Marlins. Yet nothing has happened yet. The outfield market hasn’t moved as quickly as the pitching market did this offseason, with Marcell Ozuna just recently signing with the Atlanta Braves and Yasiel Puig also still out there, along with many others.
One reason why Castellanos is still without a job could be that teams don’t value him as highly as his agent, Scott Boras, certainly does. Boras is trying to ride his client’s outstanding two months to a big payday, but the fact remains that Castellanos still has a career WAR of just 7.1, largely because he’s known as a liability on defense.
This isn’t to take away from the fact that Castellanos is a good player who would be a nice addition to almost any lineup. Tigers fans should know this as well as anyone. Wherever he ends up, I’m sure many fans in Detroit will still be pulling for him – at least when he’s not facing Tigers pitching.