Age: March 4, 1992 (26)
Traditional Stats: .298/.354/.500, 46 2B, 5 3B, 23 HR, 89 RBI, 2 SB, CS
Advanced Stats: 2.9 bWAR, 3.0 fWAR, 130 OPS+, 130 wRC+
Defensive Stats: -19 DRS, -12.9 UZR
Contract: 1 year, $9.95 million
Free Agent: 2020
With Castellanos a year away from free agency and the rebuilding Tigers more than a year away from contention, the right fielder is being shopped this offseason. Spring Training is less than a month away, Castellanos is not all too happy with the speed in which these talks have progressed, and as a result, his agent has requested a trade before the Tigers report to Spring Training on February 18.
In terms of his bat, you have to wonder why there hasn’t been a more robust market on Castellanos. His wRC+ was the sixth best among right fielders last season. Among right fielders, he would be second in doubles, eighth in triples, sixth in homers, and fifth in RBI. The question when it pertains to Castellanos is whether he can repeat this season.
Entering the 2018 season, he was a .267/.314/.447 hitter with a career 106 OPS+. Part of that was he’s a free swinger. In his career, Castellanos has a very low 7.8 percent walk rate. While you may normally regard his 21.9 percent strikeout rate only slightly below average, it is problematic considering he relies upon making a high rate of contact to be a productive hitter.
Breaking down his 2018 numbers, he pulled the ball with more frequency. In turn, there was an improvement in his hard hit rate. His hitting the ball harder and pulling the ball more than he previously had is a partial explanation for his .361 BABIP, which would be extremely difficult to repeat.
That’s important to note as his bat was his carrying card for his WAR which was ninth best among all Major League right fielders.
In terms of his defense, Castellanos was a terrible right fielder last year. His -19 DRS was the worst among qualifying right fielders, and it was by a healthy margin too with the second worst being Carlos Gonzalez with a -8 DRS. As wide as a separation as there was on DRS, there was an even creater one in terms of his UZR. Among qualifiers, his UZR was dead last at -12.9 with the next worst being Yasiel Puig being a -3.6.
This is all a long convoluted way of saying Castellanos was a butcher in right field. Part of that is Castellanos is a converted right fielder from his more traditional third base. His transition is made all the more difficult by Comerica Park’s vast dimensions. Simply put, to expect Castellanos to have a smooth transition to the outfield was unfair.
There is hope with him being an outfielder. According to Baseball Savant, his 27.8 sprint speed is the same as Michael Conforto. This would indicate he has the ability to more than adequately cover the ground in the outfield. With more reps in the outfield and with better outfield positioning, it is very likely Casetellanos could make significant strides forward next year.
Whoever obtains him knows that, and they are taking a gamble on him with just one year to get him up to speed. They are also gambling he can repeat that 2018 season at the plate.
Why The Mets Should Obtain Him
At the moment, the Mets only have two starting outfielders in Conforto and Brandon Nimmo. They are the annual Juan Lagares injury away from flipping a coin between Rajai Davis and Gregor Blanco to play on the Major League roster. When that is your situation, you need to do what you can do to upgrade the position even if Castellanos is another corner outfielder.
Why The Mets Should Not Obtain Him
According to reports, the Mets have already tried to obtain Castellanos, and they found the asking price for him to be too high. After that, the Mets tradeable depth took a significant hit when they traded away Ross Adolph, Scott Manea, and Luis Santana. Breaking it down, the next trade is really going to hurt what has been a ravaged farm system.
Now, if the deal is right, there is reason to pull the trigger on a deal. After all, Castellanos has a bat which could profile well in the lineup. The Mets are also well equipped to handle his defensive deficiencies with Lagares and Keon Broxton.
However, that all assumes Casetellanos hits like he did in 2018. Breaking down the numbers, there is little reason to believe that season is repeatable. If it’s not, he’s a potential albatross in the outfield and a middling bat in the lineup. That’s a lot of risk.
Despite Castellanos’ requests, the Tigers are not desperate to trade him. If they so choose, they can revisit this early on in the season or at the trade deadline. This means at the moment the Tigers are not likely to move away from their high asking price; a price the Mets are ill equipped to pay. Considering the very real offensive and defensive concerns, the Mets should turn their attention elsewhere to find the outfield depth they need to compete in 2019.