There has been some interest among major league baseball clubs in trading for the Detroit Tigers' young third baseman, Nick Castellanos, according to a report in the Detroit News by Tony Paul. Dealing the 23-year-old player who is under club control through the 2020 season seems unlikely, because it's hard to find a way the deal would make good sense for Detroit.
The Tigers, of all teams, need to get some production from their home grown players. Currently, Castellanos and James McCann, and possibly Tyler Collins, are the only inexpensive players drafted and developed by the club who are expected to be part of the everyday lineup. Under former GM Dave Dombrowski the Tigers had been trading away every prospect who appeared on the radar screen, in exchange for major league talent, with the result being a top heavy payroll while struggling to fill out a full quality roster. So, if they're going to trade one of those few home grown players, there must be a unique fit for the club.
With a payroll that is on target to surpass the $189 million mark after which they will have to pay a 17.5% luxury tax on any additional player salaries added, the Tigers are struggling to make up the offensive production lost by the departure of Yoenis Cespedes from left field. There is no money to be saved by dealing Castellanos, who earns near the major league minimum. At best, the Tigers might be able to move him for a similarly cost-controlled player who brings more offensive production. They would need to see a greater marginal difference in the player acquired over what they have in left field, than they would lose by subbing out Castellanos for Dixon Machado or Mike Aviles.
While it is true that progress has been slow for Castellanos in his first two full seasons in the major leagues, BYB's Matt Comley illustrated in this article that there were signs of a breakout at the plate in the second half of the 2015 season, with the Royals' late blooming Mike Moustakas being the most comparable player. BYB also broke down his improvement both at the plate and in the field in this post season review. He batted .269 with .322 OBP and..478 slugging for an OPS of .800 and a wOBA of .342 after the All-Star break. Replacing those numbers for the same or less money would be difficult.
There is work to be done, for sure, and Castellanos needs to show improvement as he enters his arbitration eligible seasons and begins to get more expensive to retain, but all signs are that the Tigers are vested in his future. In fact, the Tigers' new general manager, Al Avila, has made a point of retaining the team's recently acquired young pitching prospects where it would have been easy to exchange them for experienced major league players to fill some of the holes on the roster.
It would take a unique situation for the Tigers to be willing to trade Castellanos. Perhaps a team looking for a third baseman with some extra depth in the corner outfield positions could be interested in such a trade. It would be a move for instant gratification, with the risk that the Tigers' former first-round draft pick has a breakout season at age 24 or 25, playing in another uniform. I wouldn't bet on that happening.