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Exploring the idea of a Nicholas Castellanos Trade

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What Castellanos could look like in an Astros Jersey

You may have seen that MLBTradeRumors article today has been about the Tigers reportedly looking to trade Nick Castellanos. This isn’t breaking news, though there were a few things that made me think it was worth us exploring.

Personally, I see diminishing returns with a focus on additional offense for this team, but with Luhnow’s comments of the Astros still looking for both a bat and a SP, I figured it’s worth delving into the details a bit to see if there is a potential fit.

The Associated Press

So Who Is Nick Castellanos?

Castellanos, 26, is a 6’4, 203 lb right handed hitter, and can arguably be slotted at LF/3B but is truly more of a DH based on defensive abilities. Castellanos was drafted 44th overall, largely due to signing bonus demands that were rumored to be in the $6 Million range (although, he signed for just over half of that setting a new record for the supplemental pick). Here was John Sickel’s profile of him on draft day:

“ Castellanos is as good as you’re going to get for a smooth power-hitter this year. He features one of the prettiest swings from the right side of the plate, and it projects for plus power and plus hitting. He also features average speed, sometimes better, depending on the day you see him. He should stick as a fringe-average runner in the long run once he fills out. Defense is the questionable side of his game. He features an above-average arm that should be just fine for third, but he has a slow release and fringe-average lateral range at times, along with below-average instincts off the bat. He has the raw tools to be a solid third baseman, but there’s some question about his ability to adjust there, as some think he’ll be a liability. However, he’s still one of the best offensive options in the entire class, making him a solid mid-first round candidate, though his signability is up in the air, as he values a Miami commitment quite a bit.”

From 2010-2013, Castellanos was exactly what his hype lived him up to be, an excellent hitter, making quick work of the minor leagues, though his batting average was more advanced than his power. Here is another snippet on him from John Sickel’s prospect of the day:

“What makes Castellanos special is his bat. Scouts love his swing, projecting that he’ll hit for both power and average. He can drive the ball to all fields with plus bat speed, and is not a pure pull hitter. He has few problems with fastballs, but breaking pitches are troublesome at times. Sliders and quality changeups were a huge problem when he reached Double-A, but he made adjustments this spring and was a solid run producer for the Mud Hens. He more than doubled his walk rate compared to what he did at Erie, and did a better job keeping his strikeouts under control. He can be a streaky hitter, alternating extremely productive hot streaks with annoying cold spells when his plate discipline gets away from him. “

MLB Performance

Castellanos broke in the MLB at a young age, with his first taste coming at the age of 21, which ranked him as the 6th youngest player in baseball at that time. Despite gaining some traction (8th place) in Rookie of the Year voting, Castellanos was largely unimpressive and average during his first 2 full seasons (2014-2015) coming in with a 97 OPS+, which while not horrible, is very disappointing for a bat-first type of player.

In 2016, Castellanos finally started to seem to live up to the player he was imagined to be. His .285/.331/.496 triple slash line was good for a 119 wRC+, putting him as a solidly above average, but not star level player, in a shortened season (110 games).

In 2017, Castellanos continued along the same trend, with a .272/.320/.490 triple slash coming in for another solid but unspectacular 112 wRC+.

Last year, Castellanos had a bit of a breakout, with his .298/.354/.500 season definitely being the best of his career, coming to a cumulative 130 wRC+. The question is whether this was legitimate progression, or a fluke.

Castellanos .361 BABIP definitely draws some red flags, though admittedly, Castellanos has had an uncanny ability to maintain a higher than average BABIP. Taking it a little further, xWOBA actually believed he was slightly unlucky last year, (.371 xWOBA vs .363 wOBA), which helps quell uneasiness of it being purely luck driven.

From a speed perspective, Castellanos came in at 27.8 feet per second according to statcast, which is above average and is the same mark that Bregman and Correa came in at. With that said, Castellanos is not a base stealing threat, never eclipsing 5 in a year. His overall Spd score of 3.8 is below average, but his wGDP is above average, which would be good for us to avoid some double plays.

Statcast / AWS

2019 Projections

Castellanos is currently projected for a .276/.335/.478 season, which would ultimately be good for a 119 wRC+ and 1.9 WAR.

This would be Castellanos last year of Arbitration, Baseball-Reference currently estimated for him to receive a $11.3 Million dollar contract.

The good news is that Castellanos would be playing this year in his age 27 season, which Fangraphs aging curve projects to be the best a player’s career based on the standard aging curve.

What would it take?

This part of articles is always interesting, as it is largely speculative and somewhat more of an art than science, but I’ll try to put together the best logical components I can, but am open to criticism. Using the Fangraphs projections, and a $10 Mil / WAR figure, Castellanos shows an excess value of roughly $7.7 Million. You could make an argument due to his age that there is a potential of prospect return via a Qualified Offer, but bat only type players have floundered in recent years, which negates this in my opinion.

Fangraphs does do a prospect value report generally covering the top 100 or so (131 in this case) prospects and what their corresponding value is. Obviously, it’s an imperfect system, but they have 50 FV prospects showing anywhere from $9 Mil to $31 Mil in value. This makes me think that a 45 FV prospect is probably somewhere in the spectrum of a similar value, though obviously it is more likely to be spread among a few different players than a 1-to-1.

Summary

Well I’ll be honest, I don’t see a need for a bat in our lineup. There’s always ways to improve, but there doesn’t seem to be a major hole anywhere other than arguably catcher. If It was looked at in a vacuum where Castellanos is simply replacing Tyler White’s bat at DH, there’s a minimal differential in projections (113 vs 119), which doesn’t seem to warrant a change. There’s a fair argument that Castellanos production is significantly more consistent to bank on for a team that is destined for a playoff run.

With our over-filled 25 man roster, I could also see an argument being made to trade some of the fringe prospects to eliminate losing them in the roster crunch. With that said, we still currently have 10 position players projected to be over 105 on wRC+, the real players with concerns with the bat would be at Catcher, and Castellanos doesn’t solve that for us.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Castellanos and would enjoy him being on the team, but unless we were unable to combine this with the unloading of one of our other veteran players such as Gurriel or Reddick or even Diaz (relegating Gurriel to the Marwin role), I’m not sure I see where we could put Castellanos (or even Cruz who has been rumored). I can’t help but think if Luhnow is truly shopping for a bat, it would have to be a catcher or linked to trading some of our assets.

Let me know what you think, would you want Luhnow to pursue a Castellanos trade?

Poll

Would you want the Astros to pursue Nick Castellanos?

This poll is closed

  • 32%
    Yes
    (176 votes)
  • 40%
    No
    (224 votes)
  • 27%
    Meh
    (149 votes)
549 votes total Vote Now