There has been one constant swirling around the Detroit Tigers trade rumor campfire so far this July. No matter which position it seems the Tigers will go after and who may be dealt and received in return, prized prospect Nick Castellanos is here to stay.
Nobody doubts this course of action. Very few question it. And the resolute tone that this topic is generally dismissed with is entirely understandable.
But the Tigers should consider trading Nick Castellanos.
Yes, the same Nick Castellanos who was the organization’s 2011 Minor League Hitter of the Year, and likely will be again in 2012. The same 6’4’’, 210 lb., 20-year old rising star who just earned MVP honors at the annual Futures Game. Yeah, that guy.
Back in the winter of 2007, the Tigers pulled a trade that included two of their most coveted prospects at the time, Andrew Miller and Cameron Maybin. The Tigers also threw in 4 mid-level prospects. In return they got Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis. Back then Willis wasn’t deemed completely useless and Cabrera was a 24-year old superstar on the rise.
That’s the kind of haul some prized prospects can bring in.
The lesson learned from that trade has been battle-tested over time. Proven major league stars trump minor league prospects more often than not.
Critics of this idea will quickly point to the Detroit Tigers trading homegrown talent John Smoltz away at the 1987 deadline in exchange for Doyle Alexander. Alexander helped propel the Tigers to the playoffs that year but didn’t provide a whole lot more in Motown. Smoltz went on to become a likely Hall of Famer in Atlanta.
People need to put that deal aside. It isn’t comparable to what the Tigers could pull off with Castellanos as the centerpiece of a trade. Alexander was 36 years old that season and would go on to retire just two years later.
If the Tigers could pluck Cabrera away like they did back then just imagine what Castellanos, the can’t-miss kid, could net on the market.
Matt Garza? Think bigger. Cole Hamels? Be more creative.
With Castellanos and some other pieces in play the Tigers could theoretically make a play at Felix Hernandez in Seattle or Justin Upton out of Arizona to name a few.
Seattle is in dire need of help. 3rd base is one of their key weaknesses and they could use a true catcher with youth on his side. Detroit could supply both of these in Castellanos and either Rob Brantly or James McCann.
Insert Hernandez into the 2nd slot in the Tigers’ rotation behind Justin Verlander and the playoffs become an annual event in Detroit, period. Sure the payroll would go up but so would the coveted postseason revenue that teams cherish so much.
The same theory applies to Justin Upton. Arizona badly needs a 3rd baseman not to mention some outfield help and the Tigers could provide that as well in the form of Brennan Boesch or Delmon Young.
Upton, like Cabrera in 2007, is just 24 years old and a legitimate rising star with proven big league credentials. He would instantly revitalize the 5-spot in the Tigers’ order and once again make Jim Leyland’s lineup one to fear.
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If the Tigers want to explore all options this July then Castellanos’ name should be quietly shopped. If it’s not then the Tigers might just miss out on a mega deal that could vault them back into contention. If teams don’t properly value the 20-year old phenom’s potential and fail to to cough up a star in return then GM Dave Dombroski can simply move along. No harm done.
Nobody should be untouchable. Good management makes the right moves that everyone sees. Great management pulls the trigger on deals that shake the foundation of the league, just like the Cabrera deal in ’07.