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Castellanos contract talks on hold

Garrett excited by Major League debut; VerHagen eyes return
@beckjason
March 30, 2019

TORONTO -- While the wave of contract extensions around baseball crested last week at the end of Spring Training, it did not include a match between the Tigers and Nicholas Castellanos. And while both sides say they’re open to talks during the season, signs currently point to a summer of

TORONTO -- While the wave of contract extensions around baseball crested last week at the end of Spring Training, it did not include a match between the Tigers and Nicholas Castellanos. And while both sides say they’re open to talks during the season, signs currently point to a summer of continued speculation on the slugging right fielder’s future.

No negotiations are ongoing, though the Tigers have had internal discussions about the possibility.

“These are things that we discuss on a regular basis,” general manager Al Avila said when asked about the possibility last week. “We haven't made any formal offer, nor have we talked formally about anything like that. But he knows that obviously it's in our minds, as it is in his mind. That's kind of where it's at.”

Castellanos echoed those sentiments when asked Friday. For now, he’s going about his business of being ready for each game and letting the contract situation play out.

There are pros and cons for both sides to let things play out for now. While the trade market for Castellanos has been dormant, the Tigers still hope a strong start from their right fielder could ignite interest should a contending team have a need for offense closer to the July 31 Trade Deadline.

Likewise, while several players watched the free-agent market unfold and decided to sign now, the effect has created a smaller pool of free agents next winter. With Paul Goldschmidt now under contract with the Cardinals, for instance, Castellanos moves up a notch in the pecking order for free-agent hitters next winter. Depending on whether J.D. Martinez exercises the opt-out clause in his contract with the Red Sox, Castellanos could end up as the top free-agent outfielder on the market.

The market factors leave both sides with difficult decisions, some of which could be cleared up as the season unfolds. A strong start from the Tigers could put the rebuilding timetable in a different light, making a Castellanos extension more sensible. Likewise, watching how other races develop could give Castellanos a better idea where his market next winter might stand.

For now, at least, no deal is on the horizon.

Garrett thrilled by debut

Reed Garrett had so much adrenaline going as he warmed up in the bullpen for his big-league debut in the eighth inning of Friday’s 6-0 loss to the Blue Jays, closer Shane Greene handed him a cup of water to slow him down.

“I felt like I was warming up for 10 years,” Garrett said.

Garrett still had to take a step off the mound and a deep breath after he missed the strike zone with his first three pitches, all fastballs at 96-97 mph. A called third strike over the plate got his bearings back on Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who popped up on the next pitch.

All five pitches to Gurriel were fastballs. With that out of the way, Garrett dug into his arsenal and struck out Kevin Pillar chasing a slider in the dirt. He nearly lost Billy McKinney out of an 0-2 count but ended the inning with a groundout to short.

“It was crazy,” Garrett said. “I came back in real quick after the game. My parents and my wife were here. I was able to go out and see them, see the looks on their faces. It was awesome to share that moment with them.”

Said manager Ron Gardenhire, “It was exactly what we saw in spring. He throws the ball with a great arm. Ball comes out nice at 96-97 mph, and he has a nice breaking ball. It was a good pickup by our organization, a guy with good velocity.”

Quick hits

• The Tigers could have Drew VerHagen back from the injured list for their home opener next Thursday. The big reliever stayed back in Lakeland to rehab his right forearm strain, throwing a bullpen session Friday. Since the Tigers backdated his IL stint by three days, he’s eligible to return a week into the season.

• The Tigers have released catcher Hector Sanchez, who was in their Major League camp for most of Spring Training on a non-roster invite. Though Sanchez accepted a Minor League assignment, the Tigers faced a catching surplus at Triple-A Toledo once Cameron Rupp did the same and Bobby Wilson re-signed on a Minor League contract.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason.