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The Tigers might finally trade Nicholas Castellanos

Detroit is running out of time to move their best bat.

MLB: Game Two-Detroit Tigers at Chicago White Sox Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

Nicholas Castellanos has seemingly been on the trading block for the past year. Tigers general manager Al Avila was unable to move him last summer despite Castellanos having his best season they couldn’t find a buyer. According to Chris McCosky of The Detroit News, the Tigers and Castellanos were close to signing an extension at the beginning of the season, but the Tigers backed away.

This deadline will be the Tigers’ last chance to get something for him as he’ll become a free agent at the end of the year. Detroit won’t even get a compensatory pick if Castellanos leaves in free agency as they’re unlikely to extend him a qualifying offer. With the way the Tigers’ rebuild is going, they need to get something for Castellanos which might mean they have to lower their price.

It’s possible that the asking price was too high to begin with. After getting fleeced in the JD Martinez trade, perhaps the Tigers are wary of what they potentially get in return. The difference here, though, is obvious. Castellanos is a good-not-great hitter whose glove is about as worrisome as Martinez’. Unlike Martinez, Castellanos doesn’t hit well enough to be a full-time designated hitter and he hasn’t played third base since a disastrous 2017, when he posted -14 DRS. It’s probably a safe assumption that a buyer wouldn’t want to put him back at the hot corner, particularly in a playoff race.

Before Tuesday night’s game, Castellanos was hitting .280/.342/.463 for a 112 wRC+, numbers which closely mirror his career marks. In the field, Castellanos has improved somewhat, but is still a fielding liability with -6 DRS and -6.5 UZR/150. He may be limited in the field, but he’s still a dependable bat.

One doesn’t have to look beyond the AL Central to find a contending team in need of more offense in the outfield or even at DH. An intra-divisional trade with Cleveland might make the most sense as a landing spot for Castellanos. Cleveland designated hitters, a squad comprised of Eric Haase, Jake Bauers, Hanley Ramirez, Carlos González, and Bobby Bradley have combined to hit .219/.296/.359 for a wRC+ of 71. The outfield hasn’t been much better. Oscar Mercado, Tyler Naquin, and Jordan Luplow have all been a tick above average, but they haven’t gotten much help beyond the starting three.

Another division rival, the Twins, could possibly make use of Castellanos as a fifth outfielder, but it’s hard to see the Twins parting with anything worthwhile for what would ultimately be a bench player. Still, the Twins taking Castellanos would mean Cleveland couldn’t, and that might help them keep control of the AL Central more than any other bat they could add might.

In the National League, the Cardinals are still waiting on Marcell Ozuna to return from breaking his hand, and they’ve had trouble finding a steady replacement. Castellanos might be redundant on a team that already employs José Martínez, but if nothing else, he could help the Cardinals scrap it out for a Wild Card spot or even the Central.

With Chris Taylor fracturing his forearm, the Dodgers may be looking for outfield help down the stretch. Castellanos though, doesn’t have the ability to play the infield let alone a premium position like shortstop, so he’d be a poor substitute. If it’s a choice between sticking with Matt Beaty and Kyle Garlick or snagging Castellanos on the cheap, maybe they go ahead and make a trade, but there are other options for the outfield.

There might not be many teams that can find use for him as a starter, but he could upgrade just about any bench. The Tigers should be able to finally move Castellanos in the coming weeks even if it’s for less than what they originally hoped.

Kenny Kelly is a writer for Beyond the Box Score and McCovey Chronicles. You can follow him on Twitter @KennyKellyWords.