Days are passing by and Rangers fans are anxiously awaiting what the Opening Day roster puzzle fills out to be. On Sunday, the Rangers made a safe and secure third base move by signing former Mets, Pirates, Reds, and White Sox stud Todd Fraizer. Right now, Texas is linked to a few free-agent signings and a potential blockbuster trade. For weeks, the Rangers and Rockies have gone back and forth with negotiations (with the Cardinals the current front-runner) for third baseman Nolan Arenado. Also, Texas is eyeing free agent outfielders Marcel Ozuna and Nicholas Castellanos. The Rangers seem to be the front runner in the Castellanos sweepstakes, and if he signs on the dotted line, how will Texas look moving forward?
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) December 27, 2019
An upside to Nicholas Castellanos is the versatility he brings, a common theme for the Texas Rangers. In Castellano’s first two minor league seasons with the Tigers organization (2010 and 2011), he was strictly a third baseman. However, once he got to AA and AAA, Nicholas split his time between third base and the outfield (48.7% at third base). All of his nine games in 2013 came in the outfield. In the next four seasons with the Tigers, Castellanos became a full-time third baseman starting in 518 games at the hot corner. Though at the end of the 2017 campaign, the Tigers pulled a “Michael Young” to move Castellanos back to the outfield to make room for their stud third-base prospect Jeimer Candelario.
Castellanos spent the next year and a half playing the outfield for Detroit until the Tigers asked him to move to first base, which he declined. “I’m going to stick in right field, and I want to do good out there. If I move to first, it’s gonna be when I’m older and can’t play right field anymore.” Things may change at the point of negotiation as the Rangers rumored to have Castellanos as a backup first baseman to Ronald Guzman.
Although Castellanos’ playing time would dominantly be in the outfield, he has experience at third base if the Rangers fall into a predicament. His skillset at third isn’t star-stunning, but he’s used to the hot-corner and that gives Chris Woodward some flexibility in arranging his lineup card on a day-to-day basis. What the signing could do is limit playing time for Shin-Soo Choo and makes Woodward the task to be creative in providing Joey Gallo and Danny Santana playing time. More than likely, Gallo will be the one shifting from left to center to right field, Willie Calhoun will predominantly be a left fielder, Castellanos will anchor in right field, and Santana’s position will be in center.
On an offensive scale, Castellanos would be a significant upgrade. In his fifty-one games with the Chicago Cubs, Castellanos hit .321 with 16 home runs, 36 driven in, and an OPS over 1.000. His excellent run with the Cubs erased a sub-par start to the season with the Tigers. 2019 set career highs for Castellanos in OPS, doubles, runs scored, and home runs. He brings thud into a lineup that has its fair share of lumberjacks, including Todd Fraizer.
At this point, the Rangers are still deciding whether to keep the pursuit of Nolan Arenado, which may cause the delay and hesitation in signing Nicholas Castellanos. If it’s between Castellanos and Ozuna, I’d say GM Jon Daniels should go after Castellanos. He’s two years younger and had a higher slugging and OPS than Ozuna in 2019. At this point, it’s time to try another experiment. If there is a phrase that clearly describes the Rangers these past fifteen months, it’s “if the shoe fits, wear it,” and boy, the feeling with this team is that there are more shoes than Kim Kardashian’s closet with no garage sale coming. Stay tuned, that closet may get bigger.
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