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The Detroit Tigers have been quiet this winter. Their few moves include signing veteran pitchers Matt Moore and Tyson Ross to one-year deals, and also brought in SS Jordy Mercer on a one-year pact as well. The rebuilding Tigers weren’t expected to be active, and to their credit, they haven’t been. The trade winds, however, could be blowing through the ‘Motor City’ soon.
Detroit appears ready to deal outfielder Nicholas Castellanos, and there is a market for the 26-year old converted third baseman. The Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves appear to be the most likely candidates to land Castellanos. However, there seems to be a major gap in the perception of Castellanos’ value. According to Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times, the Dodgers have called the Tigers in regards to the aforementioned outfielder, but were met with an asking price of either outfielder Alex Verdugo (Dodgers No. 1 prospect) or catcher Keibert Ruiz (Dodgers No. 2 prospect).
The Tigers view Castellanos as a premium bat in the corner outfield, and they’d like the prospect haul to reflect that. However, the aspiring acquiring teams view Castellanos as a defensive liability that will cost $11M this year. Both perspectives make a decent point. Castellanos is coming off a year where he clubbed 23 homers and drove in 89 runs while hitting a respectable .298 clip. He did all of that on a team that finished in the bottom five in all of MLB record-wise.
However, Castellanos isn’t too far removed from a year where he had a .939 fielding percentage. Granted, he played third base that year, and is now in the outfield. This past year, he finished with a .990 fielding percentage, while committing 3 errors. Castellanos finished tied for 2nd among assists from right field with 10. The glaring stat here is his defensive runs saved, which Baseball Reference lists at -19. His defensive WAR was a -2.4.
The question here is whether or not the offensive production outweighs his liability as a defender. The answer is up to speculation. Castellanos is improving in the outfield in terms of fielding percentage, assists, and errors. However, his defensive WAR dipped from -1.9 in 2017 and his defensive runs saved in the outfield dipped from -7. The Detroit Tigers might not want to settle or wait, but they may have to do one or the other if they want to get something out of Castellanos before he reaches free agency.
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