DETROIT – A new potential suitor has emerged for Detroit Tigers outfielder Nicholas Castellanos ahead of the MLB trade deadline: the division rival Cleveland Indians.
MLB Network's Jon Morosi reports the Indians have Castellanos on their radar as a potential short-term offensive upgrade.
The #Indians, an AL-best 17-5 this month, have played well enough that they're exploring short-term offensive upgrades. One name they've considered, according to a source: Nicholas Castellanos of the division rival #Tigers. @MLB @MLBNetwork— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 30, 2019
Cleveland is 17-5 this month and has clawed within two games of the Minnesota Twins, who once held a massive lead in the division.
With a starting rotation that could return aces Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco later in the year, Cleveland has some of the best pitching in the American League. Shane Bieber and Mike Clevinger have become excellent starters, and Trevor Bauer is one year removed from serious Cy Young contention.
Zach Plesac hasn't been a bad injury fill-in, either, posting a 3.10 ERA and 1.10 WHIP in 11 starts.
Cleveland's window to contend is starting to close, so that's likely why they prefer a short-term offensive option that wouldn't cost as much to acquire.
Jose Ramirez is starting to return to his elite form, joining Francisco Lindor and Carlos Santana as offensive threats atop the lineup.
The outfield is weak, though, despite the emergence of Oscar Mercado in center. Jake Bauers in particular is struggling, currently sporting a negative WAR.
Castellanos is the best hitter on the Tigers' roster, posting a .780 OPS with 10 home runs, 36 doubles and 108 hits in 100 games. His defense is still a liability, but he's improved in right field this season.
Castellanos is scheduled to become a free agent at the end of the year.
The Tigers and Indians pulled off a deadline deal last season, as Detroit sent breakout outfielder Leonys Martin to Cleveland for prospect Willie Castro.
Martin was solid for the Indians before missing time with a serious medical condition, but got cut early this season due to a .619 OPS and minus 0.2 WAR.
Castro is Detroit's No. 10 prospect and has a .792 OPS, 34 extra-base hits and 16 stolen bases in Triple-A this season.
If Castellanos is traded to Cleveland, the Tigers could target a young infielder with high upside, such as Brayan Rocchio, Yu Chang, Gabriel Rodriguez or Aaron Bracho.