The Reds continued their eventful offseason today, as they signed veteran outfielder Nicholas Castellanos to a four-year deal. Let’s take a look at the signing, as well as how the Reds may align their outfield in 2020.
Nick Castellanos Signs with Reds
It’s a bit surprising that Castellanos was a free agent for this long. The 27-year old was one of the more productive outfielders in baseball over the past few seasons, including last year.
Castellanos recorded a slash line of .298/.337/.525 slash line in 2019, and the Florida native bashed 27 home runs and drove in 73 runs. It was a fine season for the 27-year old, but it’s important to note that Castellanos’ production went up significantly after being traded to the Cubs in July.
Castellanos batted .321 in Chicago, and hit 16 of his 27 dingers with the Cubs. Castellanos’ home run total during the final two months of the season was sixth among all outfielders in baseball. Oddly enough, Aristides Aquino, who is one of Castellanos’ newest teammates, was second in home runs (19) during that time. Castellanos also finished in the top 10 among all qualified outfielders during that same timespan in SLG (.646-4th), wRC+ (154-8th) and OPS (1.002-5th).
After a brief but successful stay in Chicago, Castellanos will remain in the NL Central, as the 27-year old agreed to a four-deal with the Reds today. But what are implications of this move? Let’s take a look.
What This Move Means For the Reds
The addition of Castellanos certainly makes the Reds a much more competitive team in the NL Central. Castellanos joins a lineup that already includes Joey Votto (whose production has dipped considerably), Mike Moustakas and Eugenio Suarez, giving the power hitting outfielder some protection. And with Great American Ball Park being one of the more hitter-friendly ballparks in the Majors, there’s a good chance that the right-handed hitter could thrive in Cincinnati.
The Reds also don’t take on a lot of risk by signing Castellanos. For one, the 27-year old was not eligible for a qualifying offer by the Cubs. Because of this, Cincinnati didn’t need to forfeit a pick to sign Castellanos. Second, Castellanos’ contract (4-year,$64M) is rather reasonable given his past production. It does, however, come with a catch. The contract reportedly has two opt-out clauses, one for after this upcoming season and one after 2021. If Castellanos puts up a strong season, there’s certainly a good chance the veteran outfielder opts out. But, with this move putting the Reds in a strong position to compete, as well as the fact that Cincinnati can qualify him should he opt out, it’s well worth the risk.
Per source, Castellanos' deal with the Reds has TWO opt-out clauses, after both the 2020 and 2021 seasons.
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) January 27, 2020
But now that Castellanos has agreed to come to Cincinnati, how will the Reds align their outfield in 2020? As of right now, the Reds currently have Jesse Winker, Aristides Aquino, Nick Senzel and Shogo Akiyama in their outfield picture, as well as depth outfielder Phillip Ervin and 2019 Rule 5 Draft pick Mark Payton. With the depth they currently have, the Reds could certainly look to move one of their outfielders via a trade in order to fill some holes.
Or, the Reds could set up a platoon based on pitching matchups. Considering that Winker and Akiyama are left-handed hitters, as well as the fact Aquino and Senzel are right-handed hitters, it could be a possible solution. But if the Reds want Aquino and Senzel to play everyday, it might not be a plausible solution. Nevertheless, having too many outfielders is certainly not a bad problem.
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