Ever since the blockbuster swap that sent Prince Fielder to the Rangers in exchange for second baseman Ian Kinsler, it's been anticipated that the Tigers would shift AL MVP Miguel Cabrera across the diamond from third base to first base. Doing so would move the defensively challenged Cabrera to a less demanding position and perhaps mitigate the nagging injuries that afflicted him down the stretch last season. To fill the gap at third, the Tigers, the thinking went, would give some thought to returning top prospect Nick Castellanos to his original position.
Now, GM Dave Dombrowski has confirmed that those are indeed the official plans moving forward. Here's the relevant tweet from MLB.com's Jason Beck:
Dombrowski: "We're looking at Nick Castellanos as our third baseman. Miguel Cabrera is going to first base for us." So that's now set.— Jason Beck (@beckjason) December 4, 2013
As previously noted in this space, Cabrera is completely on board with the position switch.
As a side benefit of all their recent moves, the Tigers have drastically improved what was the worst infield defense in baseball for most of last season. In 2014, they figure to have a full season of Jose Iglesias at shortstop, at worst they've held serve in going from Omar Infante to Kinsler at second, and they've achieved substantial upgrades at the corners.
As for Castellanos in particular, he was moved to the outfield in 2012, but he was drafted as a shortstop and has played 210 games in the minors at third base. He's got the range and arm to stick at the position at the highest level, and his bat is highly regarded (he's a career .303/.359/.445 hitter in the minors).
The 21-year-old Castellanos entered the 2013 season ranked as the no. 21 overall prospect by both Baseball America and MLB.com, so he figures to be a cheap solution for the Tigers next season.