The New York Mets recently brought back Jay Bruce, but there are still a few glaring and worrisome holes on the infield. The answer could be found in Detroit in the form of Nick Castellanos.
Before the recent acquisition of Jay Bruce, the New York Mets had experienced a rather underwhelming offseason. Yes, the free agent market has been slow to develop, but the club’s restless fan base demanded improvements after one the most disappointing seasons in franchise history.
Bruce is back but holes still remain—most notably, along the infield.
A call to Detroit about Nick Castellanos could solve multiple issues for the financially handicapped Mets.
The Mets have made it no secret that they intend to upgrade second base before the season starts. The links to Jason Kipnis, Ian Kinsler and Josh Harrison, amongst others, have circulated throughout the winter. However, their second baseman of 2018 could already be on the roster.
Asdrubal Cabrera may not prefer to play second, but he also may have little choice if he wants to establish value in his free agent year. This, of course, would be possible should the Mets be able to work out a trade with the Tigers for Nick Castellanos.
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The former first-round draft pick posted career highs in doubles, triples, home runs, RBIs and games played in 2017. He’ll turn just 26 in March and is cost controllable via arbitration for two more seasons. If the Mets intend to ball on a budget, he certainly checks multiple boxes.
Castellanos has plenty of experience playing third base and has also has scratched the surface in the corner outfield. The topic that makes things interesting comes in the form of a burgeoning youngster.
Jeimer Candelario is the Tigers’ third basemen of the future which puts Castellanos’s Tiger career in flux.
He’s young and cheap enough to keep on the roster, but after four seasons at the big league level, his production might not be viewed as valuable enough for the Tigers to build around him. He isn’t by any means a bad player, he simply may have more value to other clubs.
Compared to his first two seasons, his slugging (over. 490) and OPS (over .810) have increased significantly since 2016. As he enters his prime years, it seems he’s been able to unlock more power which Sandy Alderson has always valued. His career .314 OBP isn’t ideal but given his team-friendly contract, might be enough for the Mets to overlook.
The Mets have a thin farm system, but Castellanos shouldn’t warrant a significant return. His defensive metrics seriously impact his trade value. His DRS at third base (-14) and UZR (-7.8) peg him as well below average, per FanGraphs, while he graded out almost as poorly in the outfield.
Combine that with a mediocre OBP and you have a player whose value is somewhat limited. The Tigers should already be familiar with the Mets farm system having had multiple discussions earlier this offseason regarding Ian Kinsler.
Although there are several negatives about Castellanos’ overall game, a change of scenery could do him well as he enters his prime seasons. A lineup that already possesses Yoenis Cespedes, Jay Bruce and Michael Conforto would mean the pressure wouldn’t be on him to be an elite run producer.
The Mets are committed to slashing payroll so adding Castellanos, who is projected to earn just $7.6 million in 2017, per MLB Traderumors, could fit the team’s budget. The prospect haul shouldn’t be too steep while the Mets can still plan for a long-term solution when he hits unrestricted free agency in 2020.
It might not be the ideal solution, but it’s a youthful, plausible short-term fix that shouldn’t set the franchise back.