One of the underlying issues facing the Detroit Tigers this offseason revolves around right fielder Nicholas Castellanos. While his bat continues to blossom, his transition to the outfield from third base did not go well. Per Statcast’s measure of outs above average (OOA), Castellanos was the worst everyday outfielder in the game. With just one year remaining until free agency and both parties presumably at least mulling the possibility of a contract extension, the Tigers faced a decision on whether to leave Castellanos in right field in hopes of some improvement. The alternative would be to have him start working at first base as well, setting him up to platoon as designated hitter with Miguel Cabrera.
According to Tigers general manager Al Avila, the proposed move to first base isn’t going to happen. He said as much to reporters covering the General Managers Meetings in California this week.
About Nick Castellanos playing first base, Avila said, “The idea was thrown around but it didn’t really take root, so he’s our right fielder.”— anthony fenech (@anthonyfenech) November 6, 2018
I’m not exactly clear on what “it didn’t really take root,” is supposed to mean. Of course, the player is going to have his say as well. Maybe Castellanos wasn’t terribly interested in learning another new position for the second straight season. However, Avila did go on to say that the Tigers would like to see better defense from anyone sharing first base duty with Miguel Cabrera. The subtext there says they don’t really want to see Castellanos picking balls out of the dirt.
In other Avila comments, he confirmed that Cabrera is progressing well in his recovery and should be at full strength next season. Avila also mentioned that Cabrera is open to filling the designated hitter spot more often, and knows that has to be part of the plan to try and keep him healthy and productive going forward.
Miguel Cabrera will be playing more DH in 2019 and he's OK with that, Al Avila said this afternoon. "Miggy said he'll do whatever we want him to do. So, right now, he'll play first base and he'll do some DH'ing."— Evan Woodbery (@evanwoodbery) November 6, 2018
Dishes hot off the stove
The New York Yankees are in need of pitching, and while they will need a better option than C.C. Sabathia, the veteran lefty remains a useful piece of the puzzle. The Yankees agree, and per Joel Sherman, have agreed to re-up Sabathia on a one-year deal worth a reported $8 million.
Sabathia 1-yr, $8M deal is complete pending physical. #Yankees will hope Sabathia can give another solid 150IP and, at worst, perhaps tag-team a season with Jordan Montgomery who should be able to return from Tommy John surgery around midseason— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) November 6, 2018
Meanwhile, with manager Dave Roberts heading into a lame duck season running the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Dodgers front office and Roberts appear to be inching toward agreement on an extension.
#Dodgers getting close on extension with manager Dave Roberts, sources tell The Athletic.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 6, 2018
At the same time, the Dodgers organization is getting poached left and right. President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman is losing his right hand man, as the San Francisco Giants have hired Dodgers’ general manager Farhan Zaidi as their new president of baseball operations. Zaidi came up with Friedman in Tampa Bay, and they brought their partnership to Los Angeles to great success. Now they will be rivals in the NL West.
That isn’t the only loss for the Dodgers. Third base coach Chris Woodward is now the Texas Rangers’ new manager. Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Reds hired away Dodgers hitting coach Turner Ward, who had spent the past three seasons in LA.
And, while this isn’t a hot stove news item, the Astros reported that Lance McCullers will miss the entire 2019 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. McCullers apparently pitched through pain and discomfort in September and October, emptying his tank in hopes of helping his team to a second consecutive World Series title. Now, he will be out of action until 2020, and will return to a very different looking club after Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole leave for free agency after the 2019 season.
In the meantime, with Dallas Keuchel and Charlie Morton now free agents, the loss of McCullers will really put GM Jeff Luhnow and the Astros in a tight spot. They have potential help in the form of pitching prospects Forrest Whitley and J.B. Bukauskas on the way, but they are going to need serious reinforcements to their rotation and bullpen to mount another run as a top contender in 2019.
Lance McCullers Jr. will miss the 2019 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery today. He pitched through a forearm/elbow issue late in September and into October.— Jake Kaplan (@jakemkaplan) November 6, 2018
Meet the nominees
On Tuesday, the Baseball Writers Association of America announced the finalists for their 2018 awards. There weren’t too many surprises. I think we can all agree that if Shohei Ohtani loses the AL Rookie of the Year to either Gleyber Torres or Miguel Andujar of the Yankees, we must riot. In other news, Tigers legend and soon-to-be first-time father Justin Verlander is blessed with the opportunity to be robbed of a third Cy Young award by something called a Blake Snell (stares directly at BYB writer/editor Ashley McClennan).
Around the horn
The Washington Nationals apparently made Bryce Harper a “very aggressive” extension offer in September. Pretty interesting timing from the story’s source there, I’m sure it doesn’t mean anything. Trader Jerry Dipoto may be backtracking as the Mariners are signalling their willingness to trade away some talent in what they are characterizing as a “reset” rather than a rebuild. Tom Verducci tackles the issue of spying, sign stealing, and slow play for Sports Illustrated.
Neil deMause took a look at possibilities for MLB expansion for Deadspin. Michael Baumann looks at the strange hiring of agent Brodie Van Wagenen as the New York Mets new GM. Finally, FanGraphs has the mother of all top 50 free agent breakdowns.