The Cleveland Indians shocked the baseball world on Tuesday evening when they traded righthander Trevor Bauer to the Cincinnati Reds as part of a massive three-team deal. In return, Cleveland received a veritable haul of players, including outfielders Yasiel Puig and Franmil Reyes. We’re still trying to wrap our heads around the deal, but the general consensus around the baseball world is that Cleveland did well in the return for Bauer.
That side of this deal bodes well for the Detroit Tigers, who are still shopping Matthew Boyd as we count down to Wednesday’s 4:00 p.m. trade deadline. General manager Al Avila is (rightly) asking for the moon for the 28-year-old Boyd, and Cleveland’s strong return not only ups the ante for Boyd, but also takes another potential option off the market for Boyd’s main suitors.
One downside to the trade, however, is that it removes a potential destination for outfielder Nicholas Castellanos. Cleveland was among the clubs most interested in the 27-year-old, and had no qualms with dealing within the division as recently as last summer. They also arguably needed the most outfield help of any contender; their outfielders have accumulated just 1.9 fWAR this season, the seventh-lowest total in baseball.
Now, Cleveland has plenty of help on that front in both Puig and Reyes, who have hit a combined 49 home runs in 2019. But it makes the market for Castellanos that much smaller, with just hours to go before the July 31 deadline.
Let’s take a look at who else is interested in Castellanos.
The Chicago Cubs are arguably Castellanos’ strongest suitor this month, though that is a rather low bar to clear. Chicago is currently relying on Jason Heyward in right field, and the $184 million man has rewarded their patience with an offensive resurgence in 2019. However, center fielder Albert Almora has struggled, with a paltry 71 OPS+ in 101 games played. If the Cubs spring for Castellanos, many believe they will shift Heyward to center and play Castellanos in right.
The Tampa Bay Rays have also “checked in” on Castellanos, according to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tampa has recently addressed one of the holes on their roster, trading for infielder Eric Sogard, so it remains to be seen if they are still interested in Castellanos. Former Tigers prospect Avisail Garcia has receive the lion’s share of playing time in right field for them this season, and has produced a respectable 1.5 fWAR.
The Philadelphia Phillies have inquired on just about everyone on the Tigers’ roster, including Castellanos. They make a bit more sense than the Rays, as both Andrew McCutchen and Odubel Herrera are out for the season. Adam Haseley has filled in nicely in a handful of games, but the Phils may look to acquire a more seasoned option as they make their run to the postseason.
The Atlanta Braves have also been in attendance at Tigers games recently, according to Morosi, and while their interest has not been confirmed, Castellanos makes sense for a couple of reasons. Starting right fielder Nick Markakis will be out for six to eight weeks because of a fractured wrist, an injury that may affect him longer than that. Lefty masher Adam Duvall has been hot in Markakis’ stead so far, but has been in the minors for most of this year after a brutal 2018 season. Castellanos would also provide another right-handed bat to deal with the left-hand-heavy Los Angeles Dodgers, the prohibitive favorite in the National League right now.
Nicholas Castellanos, who has a 1.090 OPS this year against LHP, is an ideal fit for NL clubs who could encounter #Dodgers LHPs Ryu, Kershaw, Urias and Hill in a playoff series. Notably, the #Cubs and #Braves have scouts in Detroit tonight. @MLB @MLBNetwork— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 20, 2019
The Dodgers themselves may also be interested in Castellanos. Their 104 wRC+ against left-handed pitching is solid, ranking eighth among all MLB teams, but pales in comparison to their 115 wRC+. Castellanos would help make their lineup, also very left-handed, a bit more balance. They previously showed interest in Castellanos last winter, but have not yet been linked with him this July. Their division rivals, the San Francisco Giants, also make sense as a Castellanos destination, especially now that they have moved above .500 and into second place in the NL West.
We will update this article throughout the day if other teams start to get into the mix.