Lakeland, Fla. – After dodging somewhat of a bullet on Sunday, Nick Castellanos made it known that he was open to discussing a contract extension with the Tigers.
First things first: He was hit on the back of his left hand by a pitch from Yankees right-hander Chance Adams in the sixth inning. It hit him above the knuckle of his pinky finger, near where hand rests on the bottom of the bat. He left the game, but an X-ray revealed no structural damage.
It was a worry, though, since Castellanos broke his fifth metacarpal bone in that hand in 2016.
“It’s just real sore right now,” he said. “But it’s nothing. Even when I came out of the game and just looking at it, I knew it was good. But it’s spring training and I don’t want to guess.”
Manager Ron Gardenhire scratched Castellanos from the game Monday against the Twins in Fort Myers. So, with the league-wide day off Wednesday, Castellanos will not return to baseball action until Friday.
“It’s just to make sure I will be ready and good for the season and for the full 162,” Castellanos said.
Castellanos just turned 27. He signed a one-year, $9.95 million contract with the Tigers to avoid arbitration this winter. He can hit the free-agent market for the first time next winter. The Tigers, in a rebuilding mode and fearing they wouldn’t be able to match his price in free agency, tried to trade him both last season and this offseason.
But there wasn’t much of a market for him.
But now, with the free-agent market a very uncertain venture for veteran players, even those still early in their prime years like Castellanos, perhaps there is a deal to be struck to extend his career in Detroit.
“I think both sides know a conversation would be welcome,” Castellanos said. “That’s where it’s at now. That’s it. There’s been no talking.”
The Tigers would have to generate the conversation. But it doesn’t seem out of the question that a three- or four-year deal with an average annual value between $10-$11 million could get a conversation started.
And Castellanos would still be able to hit the free-agent market again in 2022 or 2023, at age 30 or 31, when maybe a new collective bargaining agreement will be in place.
“I get it,” Castellanos said. “I get the nature of the beast and the business. Especially now the way the free-agent market is. It’s not ideal for veteran players. We will see what happens. The only thing I can control is getting my hand better and continuing to have good days in spring.”
Going back to before last season, Castellanos has never wavered from his desire to remain with the Tigers for the duration of his career. He’s often used Al Kaline as someone he’s tried to model his career after – sticking with one organization through tough times and ultimately being there to help it win a championship.
“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.”