Red Sox Trade Targets: OF/3B Nicholas Castellanos

DENVER, CO - AUGUST 30: Nicholas Castellanos
DENVER, CO - AUGUST 30: Nicholas Castellanos /

A Boston Red Sox team in need of a power bat could look at Nicholas Castellanos if the Detroit Tigers make him available as part of their firesale.

Free agency is the path where the Boston Red Sox are most likely to find the power threat their lineup desperately needs yet they can’t ignore the trade market if an appealing option becomes available. One potential option they may consider is Detroit Tigers outfielder/third baseman, Nicholas Castellanos.

While the Tigers haven’t necessarily made Castellanos available, it would come as no surprise if they did. Detroit is in the midst of a complete teardown after dealing Justin Verlander, J.D. Martinez, and Justin Upton away at this year’s trade deadline, followed by the trade of Ian Kinsler last month. Castellanos will hit free agency before the Tigers are ready to contend again, so dealing him now while he has two years left of control would allow them to receive the best return.

Castellanos hit .272/.320/.490 with a career-high 26 home runs and 36 doubles. He also led the majors with 10 triples. His 72 extra-base hits tied Mookie Betts for sixth in the league.

His home run total doesn’t jump off the page, despite that he tallied more than any Red Sox hitter, but advanced batted ball statistics suggest the 25-year old has a higher power ceiling. Castellanos ranked fifth in the majors with a 43.4% Hard Contact rate. He also rates highly in terms of barreling up the ball to make solid contact, according to Statcast, which ranks him 28th in the majors with 7.7 Brls/PA (minimum 100 batted ball events).

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The 0.7 WAR that Castellanos produced this year suggests he’s barely above replacement level yet that figure is significantly influenced by his atrocious defense. He posted -14 defensive runs saved at third base and -7 in the outfield this season. For his career, Castellanos has a staggering -64 DRS between the two positions.

The good news is that the Red Sox are primarily looking for a designated hitter. He’s capable of filling in at either position in a pinch but would spend most of the time in a DH role where his glove couldn’t do any damage. Looking solely at his offense we find a more appealing 2.8 oWAR. Only Betts and Xander Bogaerts produced a higher oWAR for the Red Sox this year.

Castellanos is projected to earn $7.6 million in arbitration next season, making him a relative bargain compared to free agents with similar production even if his arbitration salary jumps to north of $10 million in 2019.

The Red Sox clearly have their eyes set on a bigger prize but they’ll need a fallback plan in case they fail to lure J.D. Martinez or another top free agent bat to town. Castellanos is capable of producing numbers on par with the second-tier free agents. His defensive limitations will limit his market and reduce the haul the Tigers will demand in return, which would be appealing to a Red Sox team that doesn’t have much left on the farm to deal away.

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The short-term commitment makes him more enticing than free agents who aren’t at the top of the market. He’s not the big splash fans are craving but Castellanos would provide an upgrade to the lineup and the relatively low salary would allow the Red Sox to jump back into free agency next year.