Castellanos is Just One Option of Many at First Base
When the Phillies signed free agent Nick Castellanos, it was most definitely for his bat. Castellanos was drafted by the Detroit Tigers as a shortstop back in 2010. But he did not stick at the position; Castellanos played mostly third base from his major league debut in 2013 through 2017. By 2018, he was permanently in the outfield. But playing the infield might not be over for Castellanos.
Down in Clearwater, where the Phillies are wrapping up Spring Training, Castellanos took it upon himself in the wake of the Rhys Hoskins injury to take ground balls at first base. As Marcus Hayes of the Philadelphia Inquirer noted, it was about giving his team some options:
The Phillies didn’t even ask Castellanos to practice at first base. He just started doing it in case they do ask him at some point.
“I’m not going to say no,” Castellanos said. “It’s purely out of an emergency.”
This is quite the different story than his time in Detroit.
Back in September 2018, the Detroit Tigers reportedly approached Castellanos about moving to first base. The Tigers had Miguel Cabrera on the disabled list that season. The player who ended up playing the most first base for the Tigers that season? That would be catcher John Hicks, currently in camp with the Phillies.
The following June, Castellanos explained he said no because he had no long-term commitment from the Tigers.
“I told them, 'If you offer me an extension and show me that I’m a piece of the future, I’ll play first. I’ll even throw bullpens for you. But give me that security.”
The Phillies certainly committed to Castellanos for the long-term with a five-year, $100 million deal.
But it sounds like Castellanos took it upon himself to get the work in. A former third baseman, he is somewhat used to the infield. But getting used to first base is something that could help the Phillies in the long-term, if not just right away.
Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski indicated that Darick Hall would get the first shot at the bulk of the first base playing time. The Phillies hesitated against playing Hall against left-handed pitching last season. He likely will get the opportunity to show that he belongs in the lineup against right-handed pitching and southpaws.
Should Hall be unable to stick at the position, even in a platoon, the Phillies have options.
Alec Bohm could slide over to first base, with Edmundo Sosa, Scott Kingery, or Josh Harrison playing third base. J.T. Realmuto could take day off behind the plate, and play some first base.
But if the Phillies are relying heavily on that as their primary option, then they might consider giving Castellanos a shot.
In other words, it might be a near "emergency:" an injury or other options failing completely.
We have seen in the last week how quickly an injury can change a team's plans. The Phillies could look for depth at or approaching the trade deadline. But until then, it is nice for those on the roster to do what they can to be ready for anything. That could even be Nick Castellanos appearing at first base.