Tigers' 2019 preview with Chris McCosky, Bob Wojnowski and Tony Paul The Detroit News
Lakeland, Fla. – Earlier this spring, Tigers right fielder Nick Castellanos indicated a willingness to discuss a contract extension with the Tigers.
Castellanos, 27, will be a free agent this offseason.
“I think both sides know a conversation would be welcome,” he said earlier this month. “That’s where it’s at now. There’s been no talking.”
No formal talking, that is. But Castellanos’ agent David Meter has attended a few Grapefruit League games the last couple of weeks, as has Castellanos’ father. Tigers general manager Al Avila has had general conversations with both.
The contract extension was apparently just the elephant in the room – it was there but nobody wanted to comment on it.
“I can’t say we’ve engaged in that kind of conversation,” Avila said Thursday morning. “I have told him these are things we discuss (internally) on a regular basis. But we haven’t made any formal offers, nor have we talked formally about anything like that.
“But he knows it’s on our mind, as it is on his mind.”
So, it remains just an option that both sides are keeping alive. The Tigers have had Castellanos on the trade block going back to last trade deadline. To this point, what the club considers credible offers have been scarce.
It is possible both sides are willing to wait to see how things shake out in the first half of the season. A hot start by Castellanos could dramatically alter the dynamics of the situation. Either way, Castellanos, who has repeatedly said he would like to play his whole career with the Tigers, seems resigned to letting it play out.
“That’s Plan A,” he said. “How many of us end up with Plan A? You have to be very lucky, talented and fortunate, really. Lot of things need to be there. But whatever is going to happen, man, is supposed to happen. I am not stressed about it.”
Avila talked on a variety of issues Thursday:
► On controlling Miguel Cabrera’s work load at first base.
“Gardy (manager Ron Gardenhire) and his staff will monitor that on a day-to-day basis,” he said. “I don’t think you can plan it out to X-amount of games because it can change three weeks from now. We have to make decisions on a day-to-day basis.”
Asked if there was a proactive percentage he had in mind, Avila said, “I have it in my own mind, what I am hoping for, but I am not saying it publicly.”
► On if it’s best for left-hander Daniel Norris to start the season in the Triple-A Toledo rotation or the Tigers’ bullpen.
“A lot of things come into play,” he said. “One is if your pitching coach believes you can keep him stretched out at the big-league level if he’s in the bullpen. The other thing is, whatever you decide at the beginning doesn’t mean it can’t change a few weeks into the season.
“We haven’t made a final determination on that.”
The Tigers starting pitching depth has taken a hit with Michael Fulmer needing season-ending Tommy John surgery. It seems counter-intuitive at this point to put Norris in the bullpen.
Unless it's just a short-term decision.
“Guys could be sent to Toledo after camp and without anybody being told, we could have a plan of bringing guys back up already,” Avila said. “We know certain dates. And we know we start the season with eight straight games. We’re probably going to need some pitching when we get to New York.”
► On where Tigers top prospect Casey Mize will start the season.
“It’s not set in stone, but we’re thinking he would start in (High-A) Lakeland,” Avila said. “A couple of reasons: One is the weather. We’d have more control of getting him on a regular routine as opposed to starting off in bad weather.
“Once he gets hot and the weather breaks up north, we will move him to Erie (Double-A).”
Avila said the same plan is in place for No. 3 prospect Franklin Perez, who is healthy now and pitching regularly on the back fields. Avila said the last report had Perez hitting 96 mph consistently.
► On his first impression of Mize, having put him through his first big-league camp.
“We feel really good about it,” he said. “He came in so focused, focused like a big-leaguer. For most first-round picks when they get here, and we’ve gone through this, there is a learning process of what to do. How to prepare for a game and your day-to-day routine.
“He already had a day-to-day routine. He already knew how to prepare for a game. He came in here and he’d never been in this scenario, so, is it any different from what he’d been doing? Quite frankly, no. This guy is the ultimate pro.”