With the July 31 MLB trade deadline fast approaching, the rumor mill is bound to heat up very quickly. One team that figures to be a buyer in the trade market next week is the Tampa Bay Rays, as they stand just one game out of the second wild card spot and are still in contention for the AL East title at 57-46.
A name to watch for the Rays is Nicholas Castellanos, a perennially consistent hitter who's currently stuck with the bottom-feeding Detroit Tigers.
Castellanos is 27 years old and is in the final year of his contract before he's set to hit the open market after this season. He had the best season of his career in 2018, and he's followed it up with another solid performance this year, batting .284 with 11 home runs while playing right field for Detroit.
Castellanos would be a perfect fit for Tampa Bay's model on a number of levels.
For one, he's currently a cheap player (earning $9.95 million this season) to whom the team would not have to commit beyond this season. That's a huge bonus for a team that has built a successful roster despite being ranked near last in the MLB in total payroll.
Mike Trout's contract: $35.8 million AAV— Sung Min Kim (@sung_minkim) March 19, 2019
The 2019 Tampa Bay Rays 25-man payroll: $39.7 million
Beyond that, he fits the Tampa mold as a player who boasts solid power numbers, putting up over 20 home runs in each of the last two seasons, but he still maintains a relatively low strikeout rate. This season, he's struck out in just over 21 percent of his at bats, which ranks 84th in the MLB among qualifiers. His power numbers may also be stunted by playing his home games at Comerica Park, a notoriously tough place to hit home runs.
The Tigers rank last in the majors with just 34 home runs in 48 games at their home ballpark. https://t.co/ptFxDioKQk— USA TODAY Sports (@usatodaysports) July 23, 2019
Additionally, he's one of the league's best hitters vs. left-handed pitching. Castellanos gets on base at a .458 clip and has a remarkable 1.152 OPS vs. southpaws, while the Rays have struggled across the board against lefties.
All-in-all, Castellanos would be a great fit to bolster the Tampa Bay Rays lineup as they look to make a stretch run.