Among the soft spots the Cubs would like to shore up at the deadline are offensive deficiencies at second base and center field, though they may not be able to acquire an exact fit. Which is to say Whit Merrifield, who can fill either or both spots, is going to cost a boatload if the Royals indeed look to move him. A more judicious approach might be to pick up a corner outfielder on an expiring deal and slide Jason Heyward over to center more regularly.
One such player is the Tigers’ Nick Castellanos, who has been involved in trade rumors for more than a year now. The 27-year-old was certain he’d be moved at last year’s deadline, then over the winter, then during spring training. And now that an extension is out of the question, he’s fully resigned himself to the idea that he’ll finish the season in a different uniform.
“It’s just accepting that whatever is going to happen is going to happen,” Castellanos told Chris McCosky of the Detroit News. “I guess as long as I have a uniform on and I am able to go out and play, it’s a good day. Just trying to get back to the basics and understanding that everything else is not necessarily in my control.”
Castellanos went on to say that acceptance of his situation has allowed him to relax and have fun playing baseball again, which has in turn fueled improved performance over the course of the season. His numbers have been solid throughout, but his offensive production has improved each month (currently at an .887 OPS and 133 wRC+ in July) and it seems as though he’d be less susceptible to the so-called onboarding issues the Cubs have had in the past.
“At this point, I’m not looking forward to anything,” Castellanos said. “I think that’s the best place to be in. Before I was looking forward to everything and that can cause anxiety. Now, whatever is going to happen is going to happen.
“Either I’m going to go to a new team and do whatever I need to do to help them win, or I’m going to stay here and continue to have fun with these guys and finish out the year.”
That sounds like a guy who gets it, the kind of player who would fit right in with the Cubs. If, that is, they are really interested in him. They’ve reportedly had talks with the Royals about Merrifield and it’s also been said that they’d be interested in David Peralta should the Diamondbacks become sellers. But Castellanos’s strong overall production and decent platoon splits, not to mention his lack of club control, make him perhaps the simplest fit.
And with the Tigers sitting waaaay out of contention, they have a lot less plausible leverage when it comes to negotiations. With less than two weeks until what is now just a single trade deadline, the whispers should start to turn into full-on conversations here pretty shortly. What the Cubs do remains to be seen, but expect to hear more about Castellanos in the coming days.