In a last-minute deal ahead of Wednesday’s trade deadline, the Chicago Cubs addressed their most glaring need, acquiring outfielder Nicholas Castellanos.
Here’s how I pictured the Chicago Cubs acquisition of slugging outfielder Nicholas Castellanos going down. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are locked away in the office at Gallagher Way. Hoyer on the phone with Al Avila, slowly nods and grins at Epstein, who shoots a balled-up piece of paper into a trash can in the corner of the room. But he doesn’t yell, ‘Kobe!’ – he yells ‘Theo!’
Because, really, Epstein has become the silent assassin when the trade deadline comes rolling around – and this year was no different. The Cubs president of baseball operations checked off every box, but perhaps none greater than Castellanos, who addresses the team’s most glaring weakness: a guy who pounds left-handed pitching.
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Playing for the lowly Detroit Tigers and headed to free agency at season’s end, Castellanos was a no-doubt trade piece coming into Wednesday’s deadline day. In return for him, Detroit acquired pitching prospects Alex Lange and Paul Richan – two guys with pretty high upsides who could help the club down the road.
But for now, let’s break down what the Cubs got in Castellanos.
He’s been at the tippy top of my wish list for weeks – because this guy has absolutely torched southpaws – something no one else on this roster seems either capable of. On the year, Castellanos carries a staggering .347/.415/.611 line against lefties – which makes him the perfect platoon partner in left field with Kyle Schwarber.
The 27-year-old entered Wednesday tied for the league lead with 37 doubles – and will immediately deepen a Cubs lineup that’s clearly talented but also inconsistent this year. Thinking of him hitting alongside the likes of Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo, Willson Contreras and Kris Bryant? Yeah, that’s enough to make me get all fired up.
I definitely don’t see Castellanos as an everyday starter given how this roster is constructed. But I think that’s a win-win on both sides, as it will allow the former to pad his numbers while Cubs skipper Joe Maddon gets to play matchups on a daily basis, depending on who’s toeing the rubber for the opposing club.
As the clock hit 3 p.m. CT and no news had broken, Cubs fans despaired – immediately ready to jettison Epstein and Hoyer into the sun. But lo and behold, the dynamic duo came through in the clutch, addressing every need their team had, despite tremendous financial limitations. We’ll have an in-depth look at the team’s additions, as a whole, later this evening.
For now though, today is a very good day.