With Prince Fielder no longer a member of the Detroit Tigers and Miguel Cabrera likely to take over at first base the path is now clear for Nick Castellanos to finally claim a job in Detroit at third base. Castellanos had been getting playing time in the outfield with Fielder and Cabrera blocking his path in the infield. Now, that path is clear.
Moving Fielder was the smart move for the Tigers. It frees up payroll so the Tigers can sign Max Scherzer to a long-term deal. It also allows Cabrera to move to first base where his body won’t take the beating like it did this past season. Most importantly, it makes room for Castellanos. If, of course, the newly acquired Ian Kinsler is going to stay at second base.
Last season in Triple-A, Castellanos hit .276/.343/.450 with 18 home runs, 76 RBI, 37 doubles and 81 runs scored as a 21-year-old. He was rated as the preseason 21st best prospect by both Baseball America and MLB.com. Castellanos can flat-out hit and he should be able to adjust to Major League pitching. He made his MLB debut last season, appearing in 11 games and hitting .278/.278/.278 in 18 at bats. It was just a cup of coffee but Castellanos didn’t look terrible in his first taste of the big leagues. He will also be moving to his natural position which should make it easier for him.
While Castellanos is one of the top prospects in baseball it doesn’t mean he will immediately come in and start hitting. Is it possible? Yes. Is it possible it takes time for a soon-to-be 22-year-old to get accustomed to Major League pitching? More than likely.
Either way, the Tigers needed to wither promote or trade Castellanos and by moving Fielder and his contract they get to keep a young bat filled with potential and open up some financial flexibility to keep their young pitching. If Castellanos didn’t look like he was MLB-ready this deal might not have gotten done but it looks like the future is brighter in Detroit now than it was yesterday.