There haven’t been many rumors surrounding interest in Detroit Tigers players this offseason, especially with once-hot commodity Michael Fulmer spending his downtime recovering from surgery. But one name that is coming up with some frequency is that of Tigers outfielder Nicholas Castellanos.
Sources: #Tigers OF Nick Castellanos is drawing trade interest. #Braves are among the teams that have checked in. Castellanos, 26, is coming off a career offensive year and is an alternative to Brantley and Pollock via free agency. @MLBNetwork @MLB— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 10, 2018
As Morosi suggests, there are certainly free agent targets who could fill the gaps for teams like Atlanta, but for clubs with a win-now motivation, it might be a more appealing option to borrow from their future by dealing prospects, rather than spend big on aging free agents.
Castellanos is only 26, and has proven himself steadily over the last several seasons to be one of the most reliable offensive players on the team. In his 2018 campaign he hit .298/.354/.500 and collected 23 home runs and 89 RBI. His offensive prowess would need to be enough to woo a team on its own, because defensively he is not an ideal target, posting -19 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) and -12.9 Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) in 2018.
The Tigers have an opportunity to extend Castellanos and make him a part of their future, but considering their current interest in keeping their coffers closed, expect them to listen carefully to any real offers made on the outfielder.
Update - 12/11/18: The Los Angeles Dodgers are also interested in Castellanos, according to Morosi. There doesn’t seem to be much of a fit in Los Angeles at present, with a loaded outfield and a few options available at first base, but the Dodgers may part with outfield prospect Alex Verdugo in a rumored Corey Kluber trade.
Reading between the lines, this could also be the Tigers trying to drum up interest in the 26-year-old outfielder, who is in his final year of arbitration eligibility before he reaches free agency. Both rumors came from Morosi, who has plenty of Detroit ties after his work on the Tigers beat, and the club has a lot of incentive to land the best prospect package possible for their departing free agent.