Chicago Cubs, Detroit Tigers

Cubs add interesting piece to lineup with Nick Castellanos

The Chicago Cubs added an interesting piece to their lineup down to the wire at the trade deadline, getting Nick Castellanos from the Tigers.

The Chicago Cubs seemed set to hit the stretch run as currently constructed. But down to the wire at the 4 p.m. ET trade deadline on Wednesday, according to Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic and others, the Cubs acquired outfielder Nick Castellanos from the Detroit Tigers.

Patrick Mooney of The Athletic reported that 2017 first-round pick pitcher Alex Lange is going the Detroit in the deal. Craig Mish of FNTSY Radio added a second pitching prospect, 2018 second-round pick Paul Richan, is also going to the Tigers.

Castellanos has a .273/.328/.462 slash-line with 11 home runs, 37 RBI and a Major League-leading 37 doubles over 439 plate appearances this season. His recent lamenting of the dimensions at Comerica Park are shown to be well-founded, with a .715 OPS at home this season compared to an .859 OPS on the road. But based on ESPN’s Park Factors, Comerica actually comes out a little better (for hitters) than Wrigley Field in runs, home runs and doubles so far this year.

Castellanos has had a streaky season, and he is in a downturn right now. Since the All-Star break he  has a .229 average and a .689 OPS over 17 games (73 plate appearances), but it’s worth wondering if the specter of being traded affected him.

Castellanos is a substantial negative in right field, third base or wherever he has put on a glove in his career. So he’s not displacing Jason Heyward and certainly not Kris Bryant, but some sort of left field platoon with Kyle Schwarber seems to be where Castellanos fits to go along with being an occasional fill-in elsewhere.

Albeit in a naturally limited sample (82 plate appearances), Castellanos is mashing left-handers this year to the tune of a .347/.415/.611 slash-line (1.026 OPS). He has been slightly better against southpaws during his career (.868 OPS vs .757 OPS against right-handers), but the split is far more dramatic in 2019 (.737 OPS vs. righties).

If they were to make any trade deadline moves, the Cubs would focus on the periphery of their roster. They entered Wednesday with the second-worst batting average in the NL against left-handers (.230), as well as a bottom half slugging percentage and OPS against southpaws.

Next: MLB Trade Deadline 2019: Rumors and deals tracker

Castellanos will help that situation, as a powerful right-handed bat manager Joe Maddon can deploy to accentuate that proficiency against left-handers and perhaps use at multiple positions when key guys get days off down the stretch.

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