By Noah Trister, AP Baseball Writer
DETROIT (AP) — With about a minute to spare, Nicholas Castellanos was traded from the last-place Detroit Tigers to the contending Chicago Cubs.
“I was sitting in the dugout and I looked up and saw the clock said 1:02. So I was like, ‘OK, finish the season strong,'” Castellanos said. “And then …”
The Tigers sent Castellanos to Chicago for two minor league pitchers in a deal that gives the Cubs a powerful bat against left-handed pitching. Detroit general manager Al Avila said the trade came down to the last 42 seconds before Wednesday’s deadline, which was 4 p.m. EDT and 1 p.m. in California, where the Tigers were playing the Los Angeles Angels.
Castellanos was actually in the starting lineup, slated to bat second in the top of the first inning. He was about to go to the on-deck circle, but he was scratched from the lineup.
The 27-year-old Castellanos hit .273 with 11 home runs and 37 RBIs for Detroit this season. He’s played third base and in the outfield during his career and has been considered a liability defensively, but Castellanos gives Chicago a productive bat, especially against lefties.
“A good hitter, very good against left-handers,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “Getting him away from that ballpark should help him a little bit also. A lot of guys that get out of that place, that are good offensive players, become even better.”
Castellanos, who complained recently about the spacious dimensions at Detroit’s Comerica Park, is tied for the major league lead with 37 doubles. He has a .347 average and a 1.026 OPS this year in 72 at-bats against southpaws.
The Cubs entered the day a game behind St. Louis in the NL Central.
“I’m very excited, to be able to go to Chicago and help this team in a pennant race any way that I can,” Castellanos said.
Detroit received right-handers Paul Richan and Alex Lange in the deal. The Tigers will pay $350,000 of the $3,209,677 Castellanos is owed from his $9.95 million salary.
Detroit also traded closer Shane Greene to Atlanta on Wednesday for two minor leaguers — left-hander Joey Wentz and outfielder Travis Demeritte. Avila said teams drove a hard bargain when it came to giving up prospects.
“All clubs have a model of what they would and would not do,” Avila said.
The Tigers did not part with left-hander Matthew Boyd, who is 6-8 with a 3.94 ERA this year and has 178 strikeouts in 132 1/3 innings. Avila said speculation of Boyd being traded was overblown and left open the possibility that the 28-year-old Boyd could be a significant part of Detroit’s future — or he could still become a trade chip at some point.
“Long term is certainly not out of the question here,” Avila said. “Any player on your roster, you have to be careful to keep an open mind as you are rebuilding.”
Lange was a first-round draft pick by the Cubs in 2017 but has gone 3-12 with a 5.82 ERA across two minor league levels this year.
AP Sports Writer Joe Reedy in Anaheim, California, contributed to this report.