Trey Mancini may not have been moved at this past July’s trade deadline, but a very similar player was. Outfielder Nick Castellanos was sent from the Tigers to the Cubs in exchange for a pair of pitching prospects.
Castellanos has been raking ever since he joined the Cubs, putting up a .380/.415/.800 slash in 12 games. And Mancini is having a career year, having already set a career high in home runs at 29 with a month and a half of the season left to go.
It’s really quite remarkable to look at these two players’ numbers side-by-side and compare. It may also provide some context for what the Orioles could expect in a future trade for their best hitter.
Mancini and Castellanos are both 27 years old. In fact, they are only separated in age by 14 days, with Castellanos being the more senior of the two.
Over the course of three plus years in the big leagues, Mancini has a .270/.325/.480 career slash line. Castellanos, on the other hand, has a career triple slash line of .275/.325/.465 over seven plus seasons. Mancini has Castellanos beat by three points in terms of OPS+ (115 to 112).
Although he’s played fewer years, Mancini has strung up consistently higher home run totals in his time in the bigs. He’s hit 24 homers in each of his first two full seasons and 29 so far this year. Castellanos has hit 11, 15, 18, 26 and 23. He has 16 round-trippers so far this season. That gives Castellanos 109 career home runs in 849 games and Mancini 80 home runs in 422 career games.
The Orioles’ outfielder/first baseman has a 1.7 bWAR this year and 4.3 mark for his career. The Cubs outfielder has a 2.0 bWAR so far this year and 6.4 bWAR in his career. But when looking at cumulative WAR, bear in mind Castellanos’ first full season was 2014 and Mancini’s was 2017.
On the other side of the ball, neither one of these players is known for their defense. Per Fangraphs, Castellanos has a UZR of -4.5 in the outfield this season. He’s registered a negative UZR every season dating back to his first full year, 2014. Mancini has posted a -5.7 UZR in the outfield this year, although he has a 0.9 UZR in 2019 at first base, where he should be getting more playing time but is currently blocked.
Taking platoon splits at the plate into account, Castellanos holds an edge against left-handed pitchers to the tune of a .305/.358/.527 slash line. Mancini’s numbers in that particular category don’t come close.
Another big difference between these two players is their respective contract situations. Castellanos is nearing free agency at the end of this season, so the Tigers were highly motivated to move him. In their current competitive state, they knew they probably couldn’t and/or shouldn’t sign such a player to an expensive new contract.
Being only a two-month rental, Castellanos still fetched a decent haul for the Tigers. The Cubs parted with two pitching prospects ranked inside their top 30 this preseason. Right-hander Alex Lange — drafted by the Cubs in the 1st round of the 2017 draft — was ranked 12th.
In three years at Louisiana State in the SEC, Lange put up ERAs of 1.97, 3.79 and 2.97. While he has a 4.66 ERA and 1.37 WHIP in parts of three minor league seasons, the 23-year-old right-hander still possesses a plus curveball. Important to note, his fastball velocity has dropped from the mid-90’s to the low-90’s at the end of his college career and into his professional career.
The other player the Tigers received in the trade was 18th ranked prospect Paul Richan, who was drafted by the Cubs in the second round in 2018. The 22-year-old right-hander relies on location and pitch mix more than velocity and pure stuff. In parts of two minor leauge seasons, he’s got a 3.78 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 8.6 SO/9 and 5.08 SO/W.
With more controllable years, a lower base salary right now, and very comparable offensive numbers, Mancini should theoretically fetch an even bigger haul than Castellanos did. That is, if the Orioles decide to trade him this offseason, or even next July.
Mancini is under team control for much longer than Castellanos currently is. According to Baseball Reference, Trey won’t be a free agent until 2023 at the earliest. And unlike Castellanos, who was signed to an extension a couple years ago and is making $9.95 million this year, Mancini is only under contract at $575,000 currently. But that figure is sure to rise considering the career season he is putting up right now.