Nick Castellanos is an extremely talented player who will more than likely be one of the most coveted players on the market this offseason and come next year’s trade deadline. The Padres should acquire him in hopes that he can fill the need at third base.
The San Diego Padres have been rather quiet since the offseason began a few weeks ago. With the only moves thus far being trading Raffy Lopez to the Atlanta Braves and claiming Greg Garcia off the waiver wire, the hot stove has been freezing for the Padres. In what should turn out to be a busy offseason for A.J. Preller and company, the Padres entered it with three main goals: adjust their 40-man roster to protect prized prospects from the Rule 5 draft, improve the starting rotation from the 2018 campaign, and decide on a long-term option at third base.
All 40-man rosters need to be completely set by November 20th, meaning that the Padres will be extremely active in the next few days to ensure that whoever they want to protect from the Rule 5 draft is on there.
The team itself has also been linked to some of the better starting pitchers on the market, as Nathan Eovaldi and Yusei Kikuchi have both been discussed by the front office. Some even believe that the Padres might be contenders for Patrick Corbin, arguably the biggest prize in the pitching department this offseason.
In terms of immediate need, determining what the team will do at third base has basically been the only thing Padres’ fans have been talking about in the last few weeks. The team needs to decide rather quickly what they will do with Wil Myers, whether it be to keep him at the hot corner for the long run, transition him back to the outfield, or trade him away to another team. Other than Myers, Christian Villanueva is the only other third baseman on the roster and it is quite clear the Padres do not view him as a long-term option. From an internal perspective, Hudson Potts is essentially the only legit third base prospect in the organization. While there are many scouts that believe Potts can be a legitimate middle-of-the-order bat at the big league level, some believe he may only be a power bat and will not be ready to debut until 2020.
From an external perspective, the Padres have essentially already said they will not be pursuing Manny Machado or Josh Donaldson, the two best available third basemen on the market. Instead, if they were to go the external route, the team prefers to acquire a third baseman via a trade. The Padres have been very active in the past few weeks, making phone calls and inquiring about several different third basemen that are on the trade block.
One player that the Padres should be heavily interested in is Nick Castellanos of the Detroit Tigers.
Yes, Castellanos only played outfield for the Tigers last season. Yes, he was moved to the outfield because he was not the greatest defensive third basemen, to put it nicely. However, before the judgments start to formulate, let’s dive deeper into this potential acquisition.
This past season, the former first-round pick recorded 185 hits with 23 home runs and also drove in 89 runs. Castellanos posted a .298/.354/.500 batting line with an OPS of .854, an OPS+ of 130, and a 2.9 WAR. From an offensive perspective, he was easily the best hitter on the Detroit Tigers all season and was the only bright spot in their lineup.
By acquiring him, the Padres would receive a legitimate hitter that would immediately slide into the middle of their order and improve the lineup tremendously. It would not be that much of a stretch to say that Castellanos would essentially be the team’s best hitter if he was acquired today, providing a much-needed boost to an offense that finished close to the bottom in almost every major offensive category.
Defensively speaking, Castellanos only played the outfield for the Tigers in 2018. He was not a liability by any means, but Castellanos is not known for his defensive ability. He is an average defender, at best, and really only provides value with his bat. The biggest question mark, in regards to how Castellanos would fit with the Padres, is the fact that the team would be acquiring him to fill a need at third base and not at an outfield spot. Castellanos was originally considered to be a third baseman, but his questionable defense forced the Tigers to move him to an outfield spot.
Fortunately, for the Padres at least, there is a world that exists where Nicholas Castellanos could hold his own at the hot corner. In 527 career games played at third base, Castellanos posted a .955 fielding percentage in 1,211 total chances. While on a much smaller sample size, obviously, the Padres’ current third baseman, Wil Myers, posted a .934 fielding percentage in 91 total chances last season. Castellanos is a great athlete, as proven by his smooth transition from the infield to the outfield. His athleticism, combined with his good frame and a decent arm, make him a pretty solid candidate to transition smoothly back to third base if need be.
From a financial standpoint, Castellanos will be 27 years old when the 2019 campaign begins and will also be a free agent at the end of next season. Both of those numbers benefit the Padres tremendously. Castellanos is still very young, as he is just entering his prime, and the Padres could look to work out a possible extension if they were to acquire him. His impending free agency, matched with the fact that he will more than likely not re-sign with the Tigers, make him a lot cheaper to acquire than most people might think. Castellanos is not going to fetch the return that a player like Eugenio Suarez would because there is no guarantee that he will resign with whichever club acquires him after this season. The Tigers will be forced to deal him at some point, whether it be now or at the trade deadline, and whichever team gets him will almost certainly not have to part ways with their best prospects.
As they continue their search for an answer at third base, the acquisition of Nicholas Castellanos would be phenomenal for the Padres.