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Yankees Potential Free Agent Target: Nicholas Castellanos

After an impressive couple months with the Cubs post-trade, could Castellanos be of any interest to the Yankees?

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Chicago Cubs Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this week, the Yankees signed Gerrit Cole to a nine-year, $324 million contract. Cole’s agent is none other than Scott Boras, who also inked massive deals for fellow clients Stephen Strasburg and Anthony Rendon with the Nationals and Angels respectively.

However, there are even more Boras clients out there on the free agent market including outfielder Nicholas Castellanos. Could the Yankees have any interest in bringing him into the fold?

Castellanos was a highly-rated prospect after being selected by the Tigers in the first round of the 2010 draft. He would go on to make his major league debut in 2013 and became a regular for Detroit the following season.

After a decent but unspectacular first two seasons, Castellanos broke out with a 119 wRC+ in 2016. He spent the next couple seasons putting up solid to good hitting numbers, but graded out below average on defense. He came up as a third baseman, but began to switch to the outfield in 2017. Since the start of the 2018 season, he has mostly played right field, where his defensive numbers are still less than ideal.

With the Tigers in the midst of an abject season and looking to rebuild, Castellanos was sent to the Cubs, who were looking to improve ahead of a playoff chase, in a deadline deal this past season. While as a team, Chicago fell short of the playoffs, Castellanos himself did a pretty good job of showing himself off ahead of a winter where he would become a free agent.

In 51 games with the Cubs, he hit .321/.356/.646, putting up a 154 wRC+ in the process. His 16 home runs in that stretch was more than he hit in two whole seasons earlier in his career. Across both Detroit and Chicago, he combined to hit 58 doubles, which led all of baseball.

The main selling point about him is that he’s trended up over the past couple seasons. He’ll turn just 28 during spring training, and is projected to get a four-year, $58 million deal.

Any potential reason for the Yankees to go after him would probably boil down to that: he’s a good hitter in his prime and he wouldn’t cost a lot over a long period. Sure, there’s no obviously spot to put him, but with Aaron Hicks out to start the season, he could alternate between DH, and right and left field, the latter of which he played a couple games for the Cubs at. Plus as we saw last season with all the injuries, it never hurts to have some depth.

However, it’s far more likely that the Yankees will not go after him. Yes, there’s a theoretical plan you could use to fit him and all the other outfielders they have in, they also already have a similar situation in the infield. Even with Didi Gregorius leaving and Gleyber Torres moving to short, there are still only four other spots in the lineup for some combination of Gio Urshela, Miguel Andujar, DJ LeMahieu, Luke Voit, and Mike Ford. Depth is always good, but Castellanos as a fourth outfield option when the Yankees also have another competent one in Mike Tauchman leads to a lot of people for not a lot of spots.

Nicholas Castellanos is a good hitter, but it’s hard to imagine the Yankees signing him.