The Cincinnati Reds are reportedly interested in free agent outfielder Nicholas Castellanos. This was first reported by Jon Morosi of MLB Network/Fox Sports.

The Cincinnati Reds are looking high and low for offense this offseason, as we wrote about yesterday. Last season saw the Reds finish near the bottom of the league in offense. Nicholas Castellanos was a midseason acquisition by the Chicago Cubs and he went off for them. With Detroit he hit .273/.328/.462 (105 OPS+) in the first 100 games of the year. Then Castellanos went out and hit .321/.356/.646 in 51 games for the Cubs after the trade. For the season that gave him a line of .289/.337/.525 between the two – a career best .863 OPS, and a 121 OPS+ that was his second best of his career.

During 2019 prior to the trade deadline, but knowing he was likely on the trade market, Nicholas Castellanos spoke about how the home ballpark in Detroit was taking a toll on his numbers. And while it’s possible it was just a pure coincidence that once he left he absolutely raked, it’s probably more likely that he was right. He’s been an absolute doubles machine the last two seasons. In 2018 he had 46 doubles to go with five triples and 23 homers. In 2019 that jumped to 58 – yes FIFTY EIGHT – doubles to go with three triples and 27 home runs.

The power, and power potential to grow for Nicholas Castellanos is Cincinnati is very real. You’ve seen Great American Ballpark in action, so we won’t get too much into why – you know why some of those 58 doubles could turn into long balls. That’s a part of the upside with a signing of the outfielder. He’ll also be 28-years-old next year, so he’s also just entering his prime as a hitter.

But there could be a small downside with bringing in the right-handed hitting outfielder, too. The downside is two-fold. The first one is that he doesn’t walk much at all. He’s never had a walk rate higher than 7.2% in his Major League career, and he’s only topped that 7% mark once. He’s never been a high on-base percentage player because of this. That’s not a problem on it’s own because he’s done enough with the power and average to still provide plenty of value as a hitter – particularly in the last four seasons. The issue shouldn’t be ignored, though.

The other downside is that he’s a very poor fielder. While the defensive metrics aren’t perfect, when they all agree that someone is very bad, they probably aren’t wrong. Fangraphs has his defense rated out as the 15th worst defender in the outfield over the last three seasons (out of 179 fielders). Typically speaking, defense at this age gets worse, not better.

With that said, two players rated worse in that same look at Fangraphs were Reds outfielders in 2018: Jesse Winker and Derek Dietrich. Cincinnati has accepted that bad corner outfield defense – assuming of course the metrics are at least sort of in the right area of correct – is worth the trade off for good offense.

The Marcels projection system is already out and it has Nicholas Castellanos looking at a .285/.339/.507 line with 42 doubles, four triples, and 24 home runs in 550 at-bats. That would certainly help the Cincinnati Reds offense moving forward.

The question at hand, then, is what would it cost to bring him on board? The Reds have plenty of money to spend. MLB Trade Rumors projects Castellanos to land a 4-year, $58M deal. Fangraphs Kiley McDaniel had a similar projection for a contract, putting him down for 4-years and $56M.

Does that kind of deal sound right for the Cincinnati Reds? Unlike another outfielder they’ve been linked to in Marcell Ozuna, signing Nicholas Castellanos wouldn’t cost the Reds a 2020 draft pick. As a player who was traded during the season the Cubs weren’t able to extend Castellanos a qualifying offer. Ozuna was extended one by the Cardinals and will cost the team that signs him a pick.

Photo of Nicholas Castellanos by Ian D’Andrea. Photo has been modified slightly to fit the ratio of the site. License can be found here.

64 Responses

    • Eric

      I have to agree with you here, and I know that we’re both going to take heat over The Point of This Exercise™ being to improve the offense, but…I dunno, even though looking at WOBA, etc. on Fangraphs, he’s all over the board, I’d like to think he’d have continued at the higher levels he started achieving, right before the Reds traded him. MUCH better defense, for sure! Would also come at a higher price tag than putting Aquino back out there in RF, however.

    • MBS

      I like the idea of bringing Puig back. He’ll definitely be cheaper than Ozuna or Castellanos. The question would become, Can Aquino cover CF? I think he has the speed to be a good CF, and would have a plus arm for CF.

      That would leave enough money for Grandal and Didi, and probably if the Reds are feeling frisky, a back of the bullpen arm, like W.Smith.

      • doofus

        Signing Castellanos makes Aquino and Suarez trade bait. Senzel to 3B.

        Castellanos is an assassin with the bat.

  1. burtgummer

    It’ll be the same stuff this year.There will a bunch of reports ( Reds are interested in whoever) they don’t get him or anyone else decent and start giving the fans weak excuses as to why they didn’t do anything.It’s the Reds way

    • Jefferson Green

      Last off season the Reds added Sonny Gray who went to the All Star game and got Cy Young votes, setting a major league record with consecutive starts giving up less than 6 hits. That’s a lot better than ‘decent’.

      If you want to post unsubstantiated troll-like negativity, please do it elsewhere. There are plenty of legitimate ways to observe and criticize the Reds, but your post here does not represent one of them.

      • burtgummer

        If you’re gonna cry then at least get it right Gray was not a free agent he was a trade.If you don’t like what I post don’t read it
        Simple enough?

      • Jefferson Green

        You said ‘they don’t get…anyone decent’. They got Gray and signed the free agent-to-be to a multi-year deal that looks like a steal now. If you meant to say ‘free agent signing on the open market’, you left that out.

        I and many others come to Redlegnation to read good analysis and commentary about the team we root for, and I’m simply asking for you to participate at a Redlegnation standard, not typical web site stuff of lower quality. This site has lost some of its better posters over time because of this issue, and I’d like to see the site continue as a high-end place to learn about and discuss our team. Thanks for reading.

      • Burtgummer

        Like I said if you don’t like what I post don’t read it.This forum is for fans opinions on things.So I give mine
        Sorry you don’t like mine (Actually I couldn’t care less)

    • Stock

      I agree with Burtgummer. They claimed to look at just about every FA last winter but signed Dietrich and Iglesias. Don’t pretend you are going to sign a top 20 FA year after year and then sign no one in the top 40. Burtgummer wasn’t trolling he was stating facts.

      As for Castellanos I would pass. I am not sure why he (and you) think Detroit was hurting his overall numbers. The last 3 years his average OPS was (880 Home/805 Away), BA (305/268), SLG (528/483). Seems to me that he was not only better at home but much better.

    • Big Tony

      I think its odd to claim they added nothing when they added a fair bit of payroll through trades. If i remember correctly, they said they wanted 2-3 starters(one being a lefty), a RH outfield bat, and another arm in the pen going into last year. They filled the starters with Wood, Roark, and Gray and then the Outfield Bat with Puig. Why does it matter if they signed them via free agency or by trade?

      • Goat

        Sign Castellanos. Grandal, and Bumgarner, along with Jose Iglesias, Add two relief pitchers and they’ll be set.
        Trade Winker and Barnhart!

      • Alex Reds

        Good points by all, but it doesn’t matter if the player was a free agent or traded for. Yes, compensation was given up in a trade – but if you get a good or great player – then awesome! And Sonny Gray was fantastic! Unfortunately, that may have been the only trade they won last offseason, while losing it appears all of the others. If they won all the trades, then maybe they would have been in the playoffs. To be fair, some of the players didn’t perform or were injured – Wood, Puig.

        In fact, if you aren’t signing Cole or Strasburg, who let’s be real.. wouldn’t play for the Reds no matter how much they paid them; then you are forced to make trades to get better.

        Francisco Lindor makes a lot of sense, especially if you can get him signed to an extension at $30M+ a year…. Much better than playing any free agent the Reds will have a chance at getting on the free agent market this offseaon for $15M plus each.

  2. Nate

    If the Reds are looking at right-handed corner out fielders that signals to me the FO is looking at Ervin as trade piece, just depth or just not part of the future. I can’t imagine him with a MLB bench spot even with the rosters expanded by 1 unless they really value his back-up CF abilities.

  3. CFD3000

    Castellanos > Ozuna. I may have some anti- Cardinals bias here but I will be very disappointed if the Reds end up with Ozuna instead of Castellanos. But I do like the idea of upgrading the Reds offense paying with dollars instead of prospects. How about acquiring Grandal, Castellanos, and Wheeler? I can dream, right?

    • Stock

      I really like Wheeler. I think he will be the steal in the FA market this year. I just don’t think the Reds will pursue him.

  4. Jefferson Green

    Given that Catellanos was new to the outfield over that last two years, and it seems that he might have improved a bit in that time, what are the odds that he improves a little bit more and keeps the defense from being too big a drain on his overall production?
    Overall, he seems to be in a tough spot to value for a national league team. If his defense steadies (or improves), maybe he stays in the outfield as a productive player, but if not, an NL team would have to find a trade partner in the AL to get rid of him – and probably would take a bath on years 3 and 4 of a deal. He is a good case for a shorter-term, higher AAV deal to see how his defense plays out.

    • Seat101

      Well reasoned.

      I also agree with your comments above. The Reds did a lot last off-season. It didn’t show up on the field anywhere near as much as many of us and the front office thought it would.

      By the way are you an OU bobcat?

      • Jefferson Green

        Not a Bobcat, sorry. A lot of Greens in the world. And yes, they did a lot last off season, and never claimed to be going after the top FA’s, either. Thanks for the well-reasoned commentary.

  5. Optimist

    I actually saw him make a very good defensive play, in the game where Bryant homered off of Lorenzen which was the final stake in the Reds season. But – anecdote is not datum.

    While this move would certainly help, more than 3 years is likely an overpay. Still think 2020 is the year of Grandal, more pitching, and finally decide which younger players will make it. If this winter works out, 2020 is set for trade deadline acquisitions. Set up 2021 for Greene/Lodolo/Stephenson and the final full-season push.

  6. SultanofSwaff

    Nick’s age will mitigate any steep erosion in his outfield defense…..not a concern for me. The abundance of doubles that might be homers in GABP would offset. That said, if the defense does erode you could always flip him to the American League where his skill set would still play. He makes a ton of sense as both a short and long term play. He’s my #1 free agent target.

    • Jefferson Green

      I agree with all this – except that he could be flipped to an AL team for much value. Unless the NL adds the DH, NL teams will always be at a disadvantage in trying to find a home for aging hitters and poor fielders, and there is an oversupply of those in most baseball off seasons as a result; so while he could be moved, in most scenarios the return would be low and the Reds would probably have to pay part of his salary.

  7. JoshG

    I like him waaaaayyy more than Ozuna

    • Hotto4Votto

      Me too. And he comes without a QO (which isn’t a huge deterrent but it still matters). I don’t think Ozuna moves the needle enough to be worth it. Above average offensive but not well above average that we probably need to be an upgrade over what we have in house.

  8. Telecaster

    I prefer castellanos, he’s young and entering his prime. I wonder at how much depth the reds have and It may still be a year or two. Reds are one injury away from last place again so youngest talent they can get is my feeling.

  9. SteveLV

    To be really competitive, the Reds need to add 2 bats. I’d rather see them sign FA than trade prospects to get them. With only 6 to 8 impact FA bats out there, signing 2 would be no small feat. Given that, I’d be pretty happy with any two of them and have my fingers crossed that Grandal is one of them.

  10. BK

    Corner OF would is down my list of places to upgrade for 2020. Looking at Marcel’s projections found at Baseball Reference:

    – Castellanos OPS: .846
    – Ozuna OPS: .815
    – Aquino OPS: .849
    – Winker OPS: .832
    – Ervin OPS: .774

    Steamer projections:
    – Castellanos OPS: .820
    – Ozuna OPS: .847
    – Aquino OPS: .775
    – Winker OPS: .828
    – Ervin OPS: .725

    Actual results from 2019:
    – Castellanos OPS: .863
    – Ozuna OPS: .800
    – Aquino OPS: .891
    – Winker OPS: .830 (.877 against RHP; career .907 vs. RHP)
    – Ervin OPS: .797 (1.038 against LHP; career .907 vs. RHP)

    Conclusions:
    – Consensus is Castellanos and Ozuna are the top free agent corner OF available
    – All grade below average defensively
    – It’s unlikely either FA could top a platoon of Winker and Ervin
    – Aquino is probably the most difficult to project, but due to fewest MLB plate appearances. However, his 2019 results show a ceiling comparable or better to both FA options offensively and defensively.
    – As Aquino has the lowest floor, is it worth $50M+ and a 3-4 year commitment to bet against Aquino?

    I say focus on Grandal first and then either Moustakas or Gregorius. The potential for net upgrades is much higher with all three free agents AND no compensation required as there would be with Ozuna.

    • Jefferson Green

      Well said. Corner outfield hitters could help and perhaps free up one of our younger guys for a trade package, but the guys who defend the dirt are more important and valuable to sign if at all possible.

  11. Tom Mitsoff

    In the past, we’ve not seen as many of these “Reds are interested in …” reports regarding free agents as we have early in this offseason. Clearly they are casting a wide net, and clearly they intend to spend some money. The variables here are many, including the 29 other teams and how much money they are willing to spend compared to the Reds. To get two starting players with elite bats from free agency would be amazing, and would open up many, many trade possibilities.

  12. burtgummer

    Question for the guys that could watch all year
    As you know Dish network and foxsports are in a dispute so I lost all my fox stations and couldn’t watch later in the year
    So my question is do you guys think Aquino could play cf?bu

    • BK

      Like Ervin, Aquino is fast enough to handle it, but I don’t think his reads and routes are good enough. I think both Ervin and Aquino would benefit from playing primarily in LF and RF respectively. It would allow both to hone their skills to the intricacies of one spot and let their athleticism play up. If Aquino hits well, he’s the prototype RF with his speed and arm. In contrast, I think Winker reads the ball well and runs good routes–he simply lacks the foot speed to be a great outfielder.

      That said, I was a doubter about Senzel playing in CF and proved completely wrong.

    • MBS

      I was commenting up top and didn’t get this far down. But i was also questioning if Aquino could take over the CF. It would open up so many options for the Reds moving forward. I have a feeling he could grow into it, but it might be a rough couple of years to get him there. We’d also have Jankowski as a defensive replacement for late game situations.

  13. RedsFan11

    Sign Grandal and Gregorious!

    Trade for Betts move him to center!

    No one can beat this un-realistic dreaming hypothetical lineup!

    1) Betts (CF)
    2) Gregorious (SS)
    3) Suarez (3B)
    4) Grandal (C)
    5) Aquino (RF)
    6) Senzel (2B)
    7) Votto (1B)
    8) Winker/Ervin (LF)

    🙂

    • Eric

      Whoahhh…Son, I believe that dog’ll hunt!

    • doofus

      Who is traded for Betts in your scenario?

      • Michael E

        anyone but Greene and Lodolo and I’d be okay with it. Greene’s value is lower than it will be and Lodolo is the last SP piece we’ll need as he’ll be really cheap for a few years and he is a lefty.

        Trade India, Santillan and Mahle and/or some other lower top 12 prospect more for Betts. We shouldn’t need to trade more than one top 4 piece given Betts is just one year of control.

    • doofus

      I like the 3-1-4 balance in the lineup.

      Senzel 4 (R)
      Betts 8 (R)
      Winker 7 (L)
      Suarez 5 (R)
      Grandal 2 (S)
      Gregorious 6 (L)
      Aquino 9 (R)
      Votto 3 (L)

      • Otis

        Anyway to take Votto out of the lineup and trade him for someone else.

  14. AirbornejayJay

    Castellanos.
    If true, we are now cooking with gas.

  15. J

    I continue to be unimpressed by the “Reds were near the bottom in outfield offense” argument. For much of the season the outfield included Kemp and Schebler, a slumping Puig, and the occasional Peraza et al. Who knows what a full season of Aquino, Ervin, Senzel, Winker, and JVM would produce? Why commit a lot of $ for someone who may not really be any better than any of those guys? If the Reds want to sign a superstar outfielder, I’m all for it, but short of that I don’t understand why they’d be looking for more outfielders unless they’re basically free.

    • Cbus

      “Who knows” is the problem with all of our current outfielders. Castellanos is a sure thing with some upside.

      Sign Castellanos, sign one of Grandal or Didi, trade for a real CF and move Senzel back to 2B would be my plan.

      • TR

        Castellanos would improve the Red’s offense, but I don’t see many ‘real’ free agent centerfielders who can both hit and field available unless the Reds make a blockbuster trade.

      • J

        “Who knows” doesn’t mean “we have literally no idea.” All five of those guys had over 200 ABs in 2019, and the lowest OPS among them was .735 (JVM). By mixing and matching based on the opposing starter and/or who’s hot, it would be pretty surprising if they were significantly better with Castellanos than some combination of those five guys. It would make a lot more sense to me to spend $ on a shortstop and/or catcher and/or pitching.

      • Reaganspad

        I agree with J

        Didi at SS and potentially Grandal.

        I am in NY today and my associate who lives hear loves Didi. What is not to love. He thinks we need to go 4 years and says he would do it in a minute.

        I would move on Didi in a hurry if possible.

        Grandal would be my next move. I would also resign Wood for 1 year and not be against Puig. Might even get a discount as he seemed to like Cincinnati. Great for the PR. And maybe getting him a new hitting instructor will continue to develop that guy. He was fun while he was here.

        No Ozuna please

    • BK

      I’m with you J, the infield is the place to improve the Reds. Checking in with them makes sense to some degree, even if they are way down the list of priorities with the Reds.

    • Otis

      Maybe put Costanlonos at first trade Votto for a relieve pitcher or someone else.

  16. AirborneJayJay

    The Braves have signed free agent closer Will Smith to a 3 year $40MM deal. The signings are starting to happen already.
    So cross Will Smith off of the wish lists.

    • BK

      The deal falls between Fangraphs ( 3 years, $36M) and mlbtraderumors (3 years, $42M) predictions. Looks like the Braves had done their homework and were ready to strike.

      • AirborneJayJay

        Smith lives near Atlanta, too, so the Braves had another small advantage on their side. They also had a huge need in their bullpen. Like you said, they were ready to strike.

    • Steve Schoenbaechler

      With what the article stated about the Reds, I’ve stated myself. The Reds are going to have to get creative to find offense this off season. If they want something “ideal”, it’s going to take a lot of creativity and/or agreement like maybe a 3-4-5 team trade. Or, the Reds are going to have to go with things like finding a corner OF to play CF or something like bringing in Donaldson and moving him or Suarez to SS or 2nd.

      • doofus

        Playing either Donaldson or Suarez at SS or 2B would be a defensive disaster.

  17. AirborneJayJay

    Twins starter Jake Odorizzi and White Sox 1B Jose Abreu are accepting the Qualifying Offer. Not that either fit for what the Reds are looking for, but both now off the list. Odorizzi would have been too expensive for a #5 starter.
    Nov. 20 (next Wednesday) will be an important deadline date for the Reds regarding Gausman and that #5 rotation spot. And regarding Peraza too.

  18. Redsvol

    I’d like to see Castellanos in a Reds uniform – after Grandal and Didi – but a Scott Boras client isn’t signing to play in Cincinnati.

    • TR

      It depends on the contract. I’m not so sure it’s a closed door.

  19. Steve Schoenbaechler

    One weakness in the FA the Reds can’t take advantage of is, there seems to be no high OBP batters in the field. And, that’s what the Reds need. I believe they have plenty of power. But, they need people to get on base for that power.

    • Shchi Cossack

      Somehow, a .380 OBP last season seems more than adequate if you’re looking to add OBP by signing a FA this off season. If a .222 ISO combined with that .380 OBP from last season doesn’t float the riverboat down the mighty Ohio, then we may have to look to the ’75-’76 Reds or the ’27 Yankees for a fit.

  20. Bob Purkey

    I love all of these ( fill in the blank team is interested in. . .) This is all for clicks to their blogs. Quite frankly most teams would be “interested” in most players if the price is reaaly good.

    FWIW, I like Castellanos much more than Ozuna as he can play third or first in a pinch. Combine him with Grandal who can also play first and you have quite a bit of versatility. Obviously, still need to address some combination of 2B/SS/CF where Senzel fills one of those.

  21. Shchi Cossack

    The Reds are in a tough spot this off season. There are limited realistic FA options that would help improve the offense. If the Reds try to wait out the market to obtain a bargain, they risk getting shut out completely. Atlanta has already inked Smith to a solid contract they deemed necessary to fill a need. Both Castellanos and Ozuna are represented by Boras so neither player will sign early unless a team is willing to significantly overpay. The Reds are not in a position to significantly overpay or try and wait out the market. If the Reds are seriously interested in Castellanos or Ozuna, they need to make their best offer now and move on to other options if it is not accepted rather than playing Boras’ games.

    • Jefferson Green

      Interesting post, Cossack. I am wondering if Boras has seen enough change in market dynamics of the last two years to adjust his tactics a bit. And neither of these players is a big game-changer, with a QO attached to Ozuna, and the recent market has not been kind to those types. Add in the number of OF/DH types that are available in trades, and the players may have less leverage than they think. I agree that playing Boras’ waiting game has real downside risk for the Reds (and most teams).

    • Tom Mitsoff

      The Reds’ front office knows if they want to land sought-after players, they will have to be proactive in pursuing, making offers and negotiating. It’s fair to assume that they have already touched base with the agents for the players they want. The history of free agency in all sports is that the sought-after players go quickly. Waiting for prices to drop will not work for the Reds to get the tier of players they seem to be targeting. I agree with Cossack that Boras clients will likely not go quickly, which is even more reason for the Reds to act decisively on Grandal, Gregorius, etc., to ensure they are not shut out.