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  • The Cubs felt they were one bat short, especially against lefties. They addressed that hole just before the trade deadline. How does the deal grade out?
By Matt Martell
July 31, 2019

The Cubs upgraded their lineup with a last-minute deal for one of the best bats available on the trading block. Let’s grade the trade that sent one of the best hitters against lefthanded pitchers to Chicago.

The Deal

Cubs acquire: OF Nicholas Castellanos and cash considerations

Tigers acquire: Pitching prospects Paul Richan and Alex Lange

Grading Chicago’s Side of the Deal

Castellanos is an all-around good hitter who, despite having a down-year, is leading the majors with 37 doubles. Add him to a lineup with 2019 All-Stars Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and Willson Contreras, as well as the ever-consistent Anthony Rizzo, and the Cubs’ offense now has the depth it seemed to be lacking.

“When you’ve watched us play over the last few months, it felt at times that we were a bat short in the lineup,” Cubs GM Jed Hoyer said on a conference call Wednesday afternoon. “He kills lefties and that’s something we’ve really struggled with.”

Entering play Tuesday, the Cubs ranked 18th with a .742 OPS against lefthanded pitchers. Only the Indians, Rays, Cardinals and Giants were worse against lefties among contending teams. Since the start of the 2017 season, Castellanos’ .982 OPS against lefties is sixth-highest among hitters with at least 1,500 total plate appearances. The five guys ahead of him: Nolan Arenado, J.D. Martinez, Bryant, Anthony Rendon and Trevor Story.

Castellanos is not a good defensive outfielder, but the Cubs have enough positional flexibility on their roster to sub for him late if they choose. His bat is too good to not like this deal, especially because they didn’t give up too much to get him.

Grade: B+

Grading Detroit’s Side of the Deal:

The Tigers had to trade Castellanos, who’s a free agent at the end of the year and was not going to re-sign with them. Detroit waited until the absolute last minute to deal Castellanos, presumably with the hope of getting the maximum prospect return for an impact bat.

In the end, the market was what it was for a rental all-hit, no-glove player and the Tigers received two of the Cubs’ top-30 prospects to add pitching depth to their farm system. Richan, a 22-year-old righthander from the same high school as Trevor Bauer and Tyler Glasnow, among others, projects as a solid back-of-the-rotation arm whose stuff plays better than the radar gun would suggest. He throws four pitches and has good command of all of them. Lange, a first-round pick in 2017, was a star at LSU who pitched in three College World Series. His curveball is his marquee and his fastball sits in the low 90s.

Grade: B-

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