Nicholas Castellanos is entering his fifth full season as a Detroit Tiger in 2018. This year will be his make or break season in Detroit.
Will the real Nicholas Castellanos please stand up?
In his five seasons in the big leagues, Detroit Tigers‘ right fielder Nicholas Castellanos has seen a lot of ups and downs. At times the 25-year-old has been trending towards being an all-star. Yet he also has long offensive streaks where it seems like he can’t even hit a beach ball.
The young Tiger is a career .268 hitter, has 70 homers with 301 RBIs, and a WAR of 1.3 in five full seasons with the team. These numbers are fairly decent for a guy in the midway point of his 20’s in the major leagues.
Castellanos may be the streakiest hitter in the major leagues. In May of 2017, Castellanos had a line of .175/.252/.252 or, otherwise known as not very good. But in June of the same season, Castellanos hit .308/.364/.549 with five homers. That would be good enough numbers to be considered an All Star. I understand that every player goes through good months and vice versa, but Castellanos has always shown a lack of consistency from the plate.
Castellanos has not fixed issues he has always had.
The former first round pick has always had much higher expectations than what he has produced.
Some scouts had Castellanos’ ceiling as an above .300 hitter with 30 plus homers in a season. However, he has failed to hit over .300 in a season so far in his career. On the bright side, he had a very respectable 26 home runs last season.
Another big question mark for Castellanos was his ability to play defense. He has always been a liability defensively in the majors. It has been a common occurrence when a defensive replacement put in for him. But, new manager Ron Gardenhire said he will end the norm in order to help his confidence defensively.
The stat that best shows his defensive skills is Rtot (Total Zone Total Fielding Runs Above Average). Rtot is the number of runs above or below average a player is worth based on the number of plays they made. Castellanos is a career -72 player and was -28 in 2017, the worst in all of baseball. He also had the 6th most errors in 2017 with 19.
Castellanos has made a permanent move to the outfield because of the amount of depth the Tigers now have at 3rd base. This made room for Jeimer Candelario specifically to take over at 3rd. The question is how long will it take for the Tigers to move on from Castellanos completely?
Monetary issues will add fuel to the fire.
After the 2018 season, Castellanos and the Tigers will once again have to file for arbitration unless a long-term deal is made prior to that. In other words, if he wants to get paid he needs to play well. This past offseason the Castellanos’ salary was set at just over 6 million dollars. If he wants that number to go up, he has to perform to earn it.
If Castellanos fails to reach his peak this season, the Tigers could grow old of him. I definitely think that they will reach arbitration with him going into the 2019 season for trade bait at the very least. But, they need consistency from the young outfielder to prove they can keep him now and in the future.
The Tigers are expected to be contending again by 2020 or 2021. That means the Tigers will have to pay Castellanos if they believe he can be a veteran leader to a team full of young prospects in the future. If Castellanos does not start to show a consistent bat and defensive abilities, his time in Detroit could be over much sooner than that. 2018 will be a really important one for a guy who has shown sparks of a lot of talent throughout his career.