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Nicholas Castellanos Heads to Cubs - Fantasy Implications

Teams had one deadline to manage this year in regards to trading. There was a ton of movement by the few teams looking towards betterment. The Chicago Cubs, being one of them, are tied with the St. Louis Cardinals for the NL Central lead at 57-50 and felt they needed to make a few more moves for the stretch run.

The Cubs only made three moves on the pitching side of things. They added David Phelps, Derek Holland, and Brad Wieck to assist in the bullpen. None of these are viewed as game-changers, but they will definitely have their roles.

On the offensive side is where they made the biggest splash. The Cubs love their utility players and it wouldn't be right if they didn't add one at the deadline. As such, Tony Kemp was brought in to add to their collection. The primary objective in the trade discussions was to obtain a player that could not only help them offensively but help them where they've had the biggest issues. To do that, the club traded for outfielder Nicholas Castellanos.

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Nick Castellanos - Stock Improves

One look at Castellanos' stat line doesn't provide anyone with confidence. This season, he's hit 11HR to go with 57 runs, 37RBI, 2SB, and a .273AVG. At first glance, he's just an ordinary hitter. The Cubs weren't interested in adding an ordinary bat. They needed someone that could help their very poor .235/.319/.423 slash line versus southpaws. They definitely targeted the right player for their needs. Few players do better against left-handed pitchers than Nicholas Castellanos; he has a .347/.415/.611 slash line against southpaws in 2019.

Castellanos is not strictly a specialist versus left-handed pitchers either; he is a career .266 hitter against righties. Despite a mediocre stat tally, Castellanos has made improvements in plate discipline with a 76.5%Contact and 12.9%Swinging Strike rates. Despite these improvements, he’s still a guy who loves to chase pitches (41.1%) at heart. Of course, the chase and swinging strike rates look like amateur hour compared to Javier Baez (43.6% Chase and 18.5% Swinging Strike rates). The only thing that will prevent Castellanos from being on the field will be his defense. Thankfully, Kyle Schwarber is lacking in that area as well.


Castellanos vs. Top Cub Bats

According to Statcast metrics, Castellanos is having one of the worst years of his career with an 8.4% Barrel rate and an 88.3 MPH average exit velocity. He also has an average batted-ball distance of 194ft, which will play better in Wrigley Field. Although a down year for him, these numbers are quite good compared to his new teammates, who are having tremendously better statistical seasons. This is particularly evident in the home run category.

In comparison, Kris Bryant is superior only in Barrel rate(9.3%) as his average batted-ball distance (189ft) and average exit velo (88.2 MPH) fall just short of Castellanos. Anthony Rizzo excels in average exit velo (89.5 MPH), but his average batted-ball distance(181 ft) and Barrel rate(8%) are lacking when compared. Javier Baez, aside from his chase rate, is second to Castellanos only in average batted-ball distance(178). His 14.3% Barrel rate and 91.4mph average exit velo are some of the best in the majors.

Fantasy Value: Castellanos could not have fallen into a better situation. In Chicago, he doesn't have to carry the team on his shoulders. As such, the reduction of mental stress will benefit him. If Castellanos continues hitting in the two-hole ahead of the explosive bats of Bryant, Rizzo, and Baez, he'll accrue a ton of stats. Nicholas Castellanos is only 80% owned. Acquire him if you can; you'll definitely want to be a part of the excitement of seeing him finish the year in Wrigley. If you can trade for him in dynasty leagues, it would be to your benefit. His improvement in the rest of 2019 will only increase his value, regardless of his future club past this season.


The Cost

In exchange for Nicholas Castellanos, the Cubs traded pitching prospects Paul Richan and Alex Lange. Richan has had a better recent performance, but Lange has the better draft pedigree.

Lange was a first-round draft pick(30th) in the 2017 draft. However, he hasn't lived up to the first-round expectations yet. In 18 games spent at both High- and Double-A this year, he has a 3-12 record with a 5.18ERA. Double-A was the better of the two with a 3.92ERA(4.94FIP), but he still had issues walking people (4.38 BB/9). He's destined for the bullpen but unless something changes, it won't be an attractive option.

Paul Richan has spent the year at High-A where he earned a 3.97ERA(3.52FIP) to go with a 10-5 record. He currently profiles as a fourth or fifth starter, at best. Richan is getting 8.32 K/9 while maintaining a 1.74 BB/9. He's working with a four-pitch mix but there is a lot of development necessary for them to be effective at higher levels.

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