5 free agents the Detroit Tigers need to sign following the lockout

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Detroit Tigers, Nick Castellanos
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The Detroit Tigers should strongly consider a reunion with Nick Castellanos.

I know, things didn’t exactly end well with Nick Castellanos and the Tigers, but with the organization on the right track, a highly regarded manager in place, and a wonderful mentor in Miguel Cabrera still rostered, although a long-shot, this reunion at the very least needs to be considered.

I will not try and sugarcoat this; I had a problem with Castellanos’ attitude nearing the end of his tenure with the Tigers.  He seemed fixated on playing the outfield and, when prompted by the organization about working out at first base, had zero interest in doing so.  If you recall, Castellanos wanted a long-term extension, and the organization was headed in a different direction.  With free agency looming, Castellanos, who began his career as a third baseman before being moved to right field due to a plethora of defensive woes, did not want to hit the open market as a first baseman who didn’t grade out well defensively.

Also, this is the same guy who was leading the league in doubles at the time and often complained about Comerica Park’s field dimensions calling it far too big.

Castellanos, 30-years old, is coming off of a stellar season with the Reds where he hit 34 home runs and drove in 100 while slashing .309/.362/.576 with an OPS of .939.  The 6-foot-4 outfielder was also nominated to his first All-Star game and finished the year by winning his first Silver Slugger award.  Nick earned a WAR of 4.2 last season and more impressively produced a fielding percentage of .991 over 1,123 innings of work.

Using FanGraphs WAR to dollars calculator, last year Castellanos was worth $33.3 million annually and played on a salary that averaged $16 million per season.

In the new collective bargaining agreement, Major League Baseball will apply a universal designated hitter which will help a player like Castellanos find employment in a lot more places.  Although he isn’t ready to become an everyday DH, he is expected to find himself in the field less and less over the next few seasons.

The Detroit Tigers could use an impactful power bat they can hide in right field over the next couple of seasons while Cabrera is still playing.  With Cabrera still taking a turn at first base once or twice a week leaves the opportunity to plug Castellanos in as the DH allowing for a better defender to start in the outfield.

Once Cabrera retires, Castellanos, who will still be in his low 30s, can transition into an everyday DH.  Again, this is an unlikely signing, but the Tigers could use a middle of the lineup power bat moving forward.

As it stands now, we’re looking at Akil Baddoo and Robbie Grossman starting on the corners with Riley Greene and Derek Hill fighting for the opening day job in centerfield. Grossman is in the final year of his deal, leaving the future outfield of Baddoo, Greene, and Castellanos very alluring. IF Greene needs another year in Triple-A, I propose starting Grossman and Castellanos on the corners with Baddoo in center.

Castellanos is looking for a seven or eight-year deal, and I expect it to average somewhere between $20-22 million per season.  That commitment is likely too rich for team owner Christopher Ilitch to consider.