Chicago Cubs: The case for Nicholas Castellanos
The Cubs’ trade for Castellanos at the trade deadline this year didn’t get much attention nationally. Castellanos wasn’t well known outside of Detroit, and those who did know about him saw him as maybe a slightly above average offensive player – in spite of the fact that he’s a doubles machine – who doesn’t project well on defense. Yet Castellanos quickly became a fan favorite by batting .321 with 16 home runs and a 1.002 OPS in just two months with the team. He also endeared himself to fans with his great work ethic and the fact that he truly seemed to enjoy playing for the Cubs.
Castellanos has proven that his game works at Wrigley Field, albeit in a small sample size. And it’s not like he came out of absolutely nowhere: In spite of playing half his games at pitcher-friendly Comerica Park in Detroit, he’s posted an OPS of over .800 for four straight years, over 20 home runs three straight years, and over 30 doubles five of the last six years, including 46 in 2018 and a stunning 58 in 2019.
Given that Rendon is considered to be the big prize among hitters in this year’s free agent class, Castellanos will probably come cheaper. And who knows, perhaps given that he’s enjoyed his time with the Cubs so much, he may be willing to take a little less than he would from other teams. He’s also the younger of these two players: Castellanos will be 28 in 2020, while Rendon will be 30, so there’s more potential for upside.
It remains to be seen how much the front office will want to turn the roster over after two straight disappointing finishes to the season, but I don’t see Castellanos being subject to that since he was only in Chicago for less than half the season and it certainly wasn’t his fault that the team collapsed towards the end.