Some of the players who could make a difference that we’ve been connected to simply don’t make sense. I know the TV and radio conglomerates have a vested interest in tons and tons of Manny Machado talk — especially if New York and Los Angeles and other big markets are involved! — but it does not make sense for the Braves to acquire Machado. So I’m glad it’s not talked about much on this fair blog, because it doesn’t make sense.
The Braves have been very consistent that the moves that they want to do — and also seem to make the most sense — are adding players with multiple years of control. And the Tigers match up extraordinarily well. They need a quantity of prospects. They have the spots in the rotation to give guys opportunities. They have two players that do not seem to fit within their competitive window. They would probably welcome trading Fulmer and Castellanos for a sizable helping of our pitching prospects.
So what would it take to get them? Michael Fulmer is 25 years old, had a 3.5 fWAR season last year and on pace for another 3 WAR this year, and he won’t be a free agent until 2023. He is just as valuable but not nearly as publicized as Chris Archer. Put him on a contending team in the National League, put him in front of a good defense, and he could develop into a top-30 starter. And he would be going into his peak right as the Braves are peaking themselves.
Nick Castellanos is also attractive. He’s 26, he’s produced 2.5 fWAR so far this season, and is also entering his peak. He doesn’t have quite as many years of control, though, as he’ll be a free agent at the end of next season. Fulmer, with his years of control, is the more attractive piece, but Castellanos could help this year and next. Castellanos played 3B predominantly last year, but he did not grade out well. For this trade to work, the Braves would have to use Castellanos at 3B, LF, and RF depending on match-ups, and this would obviously show a “win now” attitude as it would cause some playing time for both Ender and Camargo to decrease. Markakis at some point will need some days off, so Castellanos would fill in exceptionally well there as well.
But as Markakis leaves for free agency, Castellanos would be your everyday RF next year. And as a RF, he fits our lineup much better as a power-hitting right-handed hitter vs. Markakis, who lacks Castellanos’ power and adds to the left-handed hitting dynamic at the top of the order.
If they made this trade at the deadline, the Braves could be looking at a trade package of a major league ready starting pitcher, an elite starting pitching prospect down the system, a strong position player prospect, and filler. So Luiz Gohara, Ian Anderson, Drew Waters, and Matt Wisler could be what we’re looking at. The names jump out as a lot to give up, but you’re getting almost 6 years of total control for Fulmer and Castellanos together, and they’re on pace to contribute about 7.5-8 fWAR this year. You would add some certainty and validity to both the rotation and the depth of the position player core, and you’d have your replacement for Markakis.