The Detroit Tigers have traded right fielder Nick Castellanos to the Chicago Cubs, reports Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press. The 27-year-old has not officially finalized the deal, but several other outlets are confirming the transaction.
Castellanos will enter free agency this fall, making him an obvious trade candidate for one of the worst teams in baseball. He signed a 1-year, $9,950,000 contract with Detroit last offseason after emerging avoiding arbitration the last two seasons.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Castellanos was acquired for pitching prospects Alex Lange, a former first-round pick, and Paul Richan. Richan was 10-5 with a 3.97 ERA in 17 starts for high-A Myrtle Beach.
His averages are down from 2018, his best statistical season. He is hitting .273 for 11 homers and 37 RBIs. His on-base percentage is just .328, which is slightly above his career average.
He earned a $3 million pay bump after last season’s performance. He batted .298 with an OBP of .354, while driving in 89 runs and blasting 23 home runs. He was also the American League’s triples leader in 2017.
This is the second move for the Tigers as they near the trade deadline. They sent closer Shane Greene to the Atlanta Braves. Robert Murray of The Athletic says the Tigers will receive Joey Wentz and Travis Demeritte for their troubles.
What Position Will Castellanos Play in Chicago?
The three typical starters in the outfield for the Cubs are Jason Heyward in right field, Ian Happ in center and Kyle Schwarber in left. This was also the lineup in Tuesday’s matchup against the Cardinals.
Castellanos may not start in right, as Heyward is actually putting together a decent statistical season. He is currently hitting .278 for 15 home runs and 44 RBIs. His OBP is also .355, so across the board, his numbers are better than Castellanos’.
However, the new addition from Detroit is outdoing both Schwarber and Happ on the plate. Schwarber is a very high-risk batter, averaging just .226 with 107 strikeouts already, but belting 24 dingers. He also has an even lower OBP than Castellanos.
Happ, meanwhile, was recalled to the majors after a minor league stint in Iowa. He has batted just .240 over his short career, while racking up a shocking 167 strikeouts last season.
Neither Happ nor Schwarber are particularly great defensively, though this is an area of concern for Castellanos. Kyle Yost of Bless You Boys notes that his switch to the outfield has yielded ghastly results since the end of 2018.
The numbers have not been pretty for Castellanos and they remain that way through the position change. Both Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) and Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) have consistently ranked him as one of the worst defenders at his position over the course of his career. Anyone watching the games probably already had this opinion of him, but the numbers solidify what the eyes have seen.
During his four seasons at third base, Castellanos averaged -6.45 UZR and -16 DRS, around 18th and 19th among qualified defenders in these metrics. Not only was he a pretty lousy defender on the left side of the infield, he was arguably the worst player at the position during his tenure there.
If push comes to shove, Joe Maddon could probably place Castellanos in place of Happ and be fine. However, it’s more likely that he’s a designated hitter addition.