DETROIT - The MLB Winter Meetings are here, and this could be one of the most exciting times of the year for the rebuilding Detroit Tigers.
As a team that's not close to contending, the Tigers are making the right moves this offseason: signing short deals with affordable, high-ceiling players and shopping veterans without many years left on their contracts.
Nicholas Castellanos is one of the few valuable trade pieces on the Tigers' roster. At 26 years old, Castellanos should only improve on his strong 2018 season. He slugged 23 home runs and 46 doubles while posting a .854 OPS in 157 games.
While Castellanos is an excellent hitter, he's one of the worst statistical outfielders in baseball, so his WAR settled at 2.9 last year. That's still a valuable asset, though, and some of the teams contending for a World Series would certainly love to add his bat.
Here are three dream trade scenarios if the Tigers move Castellanos.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Dream trade: Tigers send Castellanos and P Shane Greene to Dodgers for P Dennis Santana and C Diego Cartaya
The Dodgers are one of the teams reportedly interested in Castellanos, especially if some of the bigger outfield names -- such as Bryce Harper and A.J. Pollock -- land elsewhere.
Los Angeles got solid outfield production from Yasiel Puig and Joc Pederson last year, but with Cody Bellinger playing primarily at first base, the team could use a more established third option.
There are plenty of prospects in the Dodgers' farm system that would interest the Tigers, but many of the top options would be unavailable due to Castellanos' defense.
Shane Greene would be a welcome addition to a Dodgers bullpen that could lose Ryan Madson, Daniel Hudson and Erik Goeddel. Greene saved 32 games for the Tigers last season but allowed 36 earned runs in 63.1 innings. He could draw interest from teams that want to recapture his excellent 2017, when he posted a 2.66 ERA and struck out more than a batter per inning as a full-time reliever.
Al Avila would do very well to land the team's No. 6 prospect Dennis Santana and No. 11 prospect Diego Cartaya.
Santana is a right-handed pitcher who struck out more than a batter per inning and held hitters to a .196 average in 10 starts last season. His walks were low and he kept the ball in the park.
This is the type of pitcher the Tigers have long targeted: a young righty with a fastball that touches the high 60s and a strong slider to compliment it. At 22 years old, Santana is at a stage in his development that should bring him to the MLB roster around the same time as the rest of the organization's talented young pitchers.
Even if Santana can't improve his changeup enough to become a reliable starting pitcher, he could be a valuable back-end relief pitcher with an elite fastball and swing-and-miss slider.
Cartaya is a 17-year-old catcher who hasn't played in an MLB game because he was just signed as an international amateur.
The Dodgers likely wouldn't move Cartaya in any situation, but hey, this is a dream scenario. Los Angeles has two catcher prospects ranked higher than Cartaya, including Keibert Ruiz, the No. 3 catcher prospect in baseball.
Ruiz is only 20 years old, so the Dodgers wouldn't be lacking at catcher if Cartaya was moved. The team's No. 5 prospect is catcher Will Smith, who's 23 years old and the No. 8 catcher in the minors.
No team has more riches than Los Angeles at the catcher position, and since the Tigers badly need a catcher, this would be a perfect trade partner.
Jake Rogers, who was acquired in the Justin Verlander trade, is the Tigers' top minor-league option at catcher, but he plummeted in the latest rankings update because of a poor offensive season. He finished with a .717 OPS and 112 strikeouts in 99 games.
If the Dodgers were willing to part with Santana and any of their three catching prospects it would be a steal for the Tigers.
Dream trade: Tigers send Castellanos to Astros for P Josh James
Houston was reportedly interested in Castellanos last July, and since then, a couple of spots have opened up for the 2017 World Series champs.
Utility man Marwin Gonzalez hit the free agent market this offseason, and he played 76 games in the outfield last season. If Houston wants a one-year answer in the outfield for prospects such as Kyle Tucker to develop, Castellanos could be an option.
But more interestingly, Astros designated hitter Evan Gattis is no longer on the team, which could offer Castellanos an opportunity to do what he does best without being a liability in the field. He probably doesn't want to give up on playing defense at just 26 years old, but it could be a good deal for Houston in 2019.
Josh James would be an incredible get for the Tigers. He's the No. 4 prospect in the Astros system and the No. 95 overall prospect in baseball, so it's not completely unreasonable to consider him in a one-for-one deal.
James has one of the best single pitches in the minors: a fastball that can reach 100 mph with movement. He slider and changeup are both solid, but it's the fastball that makes James an intriguing prospect.
At 25 years old, James is probably ready to join an MLB rotation, and the Astros will have to replace free agents Dallas Keuchel and Charlie Morton and injured Lance McCullers. James might be very difficult to pry away.
In a brief MLB stint last season, which included three starts and three relief appearances, James struck out 29 batters in 23 innings while posting a 0.96 WHIP and holding batters to a .183 average.
Dream trade: Tigers send Castellanos to Braves for Luiz Gohara
The Braves are at the stage of their resurgence when they have great young players and just need to make a couple of solidifying moves to round out the roster.
If they don't want to break the bank for a superstar such as Harper, Castellanos could be a good option to replace Nick Markakis, who played in all 162 games last season, making his first All-Star Game and winning Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards.
Castellanos certainly wouldn't win a Gold Glove, but he could easily top the offensive production of Markakis. Castellanos hit more doubles and home runs and posted a better OPS than Markakis last season.
What makes the Braves such an attractive trade partner? They have an astounding 10 players ranked in baseball's top 100 prospects.
Remember when the Tigers gave up on Robbie Ray too early because of his disastrous first stint at the MLB level? Avila should see if the Braves are willing to do the same with Luiz Gohara.
The 22-year-old left-handed starter is the No. 7 prospect in the Braves' system and the No. 78 prospect overall.
He's also the No. 9 left-handed pitching prospect, which would fill a need for the Tigers. Each of the team's top six pitching prospects -- Casey Mize, Matt Manning, Franklin Perez, Alex Faedo, Beau Burrows and Kyle Funkhouser -- are right-handed.
Gohara is too much to ask for Castellanos, but in this dream scenario, the Braves are desperate to add an high-end hitter and willing to part with Gohara because of their embarrassment of pitching riches.
Not only have Mike Foltynewicz, Sean Newcomb and Julio Teheran established themselves in the MLB starting rotation at 27 years old or younger, the Braves also have six pitchers other than Gohara ranked in baseball's top 100 prospects.
In nine appearances at the MLB level, Gohara allowed 13 earned runs in 19.2 innings and struck out 18 batters. Walks were a major issue and he allowed three home runs. His five starts in 2017 didn't go well, either, though he struck out 31 batters in 29.1 innings.
Gohara didn't have a great minor league season last year, either, but it's clear the stuff is there for him to be a good left-handed starter. His fastball sits in the upper 90s and his slider is one of the best in the minors among lefties.
He weighs 265 pounds, so it's no surprise he can throw hard on a consistent basis.
There's no such thing as too much talented pitching in the minor leagues, so the Tigers would love to add a left-hander with elite stuff to its mix of exciting right-handed pitching prospects.
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