ESPN: Cabrera, Castellanos need ‘change of scenery’

The Detroit News

Miguel Cabrera is the face of a Detroit Tigers franchise that, well, has lost plenty of faces since last July.

Might it lose Cabrera, too?

ESPN’s Bradford Doolittle writes it’d be in Cabrera’s best interest if he were moved, along with outfielder Nick Castellanos. They are two of 10 major leaguers who Doolittle says would benefit most from a “change in scenery” this offseason, in a story posted Monday.

Cabrera is coming off the worst season of his 15-year career, including 10 in Detroit, hitting just .249 with 16 home runs and 60 RBIs. His OPS also was a career-low .728. Meanwhile, the Tigers entered a rebuild in which they shipped stars such as Justin Verlander, Justin Upton and J.D. Martinez to contenders, as well as complementary pieces such as reliever Justin Wilson and Alex Avila.

Cabrera was limited to 130 games between first base and designated hitter, in part because of back issues that include two herniated disks. It preceded an offseason in which personal issues in Cabrera’s life came to light, including a lawsuit from a Florida woman over support for two children she says he fathered.

“ ... After 10 years in Detroit, maybe Miggy is perfectly content to finish out his career in the same place even though the Tigers are just getting started on a rebuild,” Doolittle writes. “Still, you’d like to see such an all-time great get a shot at a few more high-stakes games. He turns 35 just after opening day of next season, so he’s still at an age where two or three more big years is a possibility.”

And, while Doolittle figures Cabrera’s back issues and his sizable contract will be enough to scare off most teams, he writes “projections will invariably see him as a prime bounce-back candidate. Also, according to Statcast, no player saw a bigger disparity between the quality of his balls struck (per expected WOBA) and his results (actual WOBA). In fact, no other player was close.”

Should Cabrera appear healthy, and start fast, “you can bet there will be trade speculation. And at that point, the Tigers would likely be much less willing to eat money (from the contract).”

As for Castellanos, Doolittle sees moving the third baseman-turned-outfielder as a matter of timing, and how his bat fits at Comerica Park. Castellanos is coming of a season in which he set career-highs in home runs (26) and RBIs (101).

“Castellanos has two more years of arbitration eligibility left before he hits free agency,” Doolittle writes. “That means his own timeline might not dovetail with that of the Detroit rebuild. On top of that, Castellanos may not be ideally suited to hit in Comerica Park. During his career, he’s hit 39 homers on the road and 31 at home, though Comerica has generally been a neutral park for righty power hitters. According to the Bill James Handbook, Castellanos had 17 outs on balls he hit at least 390 feet, the most in baseball.”

Also on Doolittle’s list is Boston Red Sox left-hander David Price, who played for the Tigers from 2014-15.