Detroit — The Chicago Cubs have emerged as a serious suitor for Tigers right-fielder Nick Castellanos, a source confirmed to The Detroit News on Sunday.
The source requested anonymity due to the sensitive nature of negotiations.
The Cubs certainly have a need for a right-handed hitter and a corner outfielder, and they have had scouts following him for the last week or so.
They have essentially two solid outfielders, Albert Almora and Jason Heyward. They have been rotating several players in left field, including Kyle Schwarber, Carlos Gonzalez, Mark Zagunis and, recently, Kris Bryant.
If they acquired Castellanos, it seems likely they would move Heyward to center field, Almora to left and Bryant could settle back in at third base.
And, if the Cubs believe their road to the World Series will ultimately have to go through the Los Angeles Dodgers, they could use some more punch from the right side of the plate.
The Dodgers’ rotation features lefties Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu, and Rich Hill is expected to be back in September.
Manager Joe Maddon talked about that with MLB.com.
"We've got to hit lefties, man," he told reporter Jordan Bastian. "We've got to figure that part of it out. That's a big part moving down the road. And we have guys in our lineup that historically have done that that aren't doing it right now."
The Cubs started Sunday with a .243/.331/.447 slash line against left-handed pitching, with a .778 OPS.
Castellanos, who leads the Major Leagues with 34 doubles and his hitting .284 after collecting three hits Sunday, including a walk-off home run against lefty reliever Tim Mayza.
He came into the game with a slash-line of .377/.451/.639 with an OPS of 1.090 against left-handed pitchers. In his career, he's hit lefties at a .302 clip, slugging .514.
Castellanos was asked about the trade rumors after hitting a walk-off home run in the 10th inning of Sunday's 4-3 win over the Blue Jays.
"To be honest, I'm really not anxious about it because I am at the point where I don't really care what happens," he said. "Why care? I can't control it. Why care if my hair is going to turn gray one day? I can't control it.
"Whatever happens, I really don't care."
The Tigers, who will lose Castellanos to free agency this offseason, don’t have a lot of leverage. One thing they could use, though, is the $4 million remaining on Castellanos’ contract. The Tigers could offer to pay Castellanos’ salary in exchange for a better prospect or a big-league ready player.
That may appeal to a team like the Cubs, who are up against the luxury-tax threshold.
The Indians, Rays and Reds have also been scouting Castellanos heavily.
Tigers closer Shane Greene has also been getting a lot of attention. The Nationals and Dodgers have been the teams most linked to him. The Cubs, according to a Chicago-based report Sunday, are also interested in Greene.
Starting pitcher Matthew Boyd, who has three years of team control remaining, has also drawn interest from several teams, including the Yankees, Rays, Brewers, Dodgers and Twins. But the Tigers are rightfully asking for a hefty return.
At this point, the odds of Boyd remaining with the Tigers beyond the deadline appear strong.