The Winter Meetings are now officially over. The Rule 5 Draft wrapped up just before 1pm ET and was the final event to take place – sending everyone back to their homes. The Reds were busy in the Rule 5 draft, and you can read about that below. Perhaps the biggest news as it relates to the Cincinnati Reds, though, came from Jon Morosi of MLB Network early in the morning when he reported that the Reds were still showing interest in free agent outfielder Nicholas Castellanos.

For a team that is looking to add offense, Castellanos is probably the best hitter remaining on the free agent market. From 2016-2018 he posted a 120 OPS+ for the Detroit Tigers. In the first half of 2019 that was just a mark of 105 for the Tigers. But after being traded at the deadline to the Chicago Cubs, he went nuts, hitting .321/.356/.646 – good for a 151 OPS+, finishing the year with a Major League best 58 doubles, three triples, and 27 homers.

He’s been an extra-base hit machine over the last three seasons, with tons of non-homers making up a good chunk of that. Great American Ballpark probably helps turn a few of those extra-base hits into homers. There are certainly concerns about his defense – but if you are looking to upgrade the offense in free agency, he’s probably the best option.

The Reds select Mark Payton in the Rule 5 Draft

Mark Payton has a breakout year and a half in 2019 for Oakland. The short left-handed hitter (he’s listed at just 5′ 8″ and 190 lbs) began the year with 32 career home runs. He then went out and hit a ridiculous .334/.400/.653 with 30 doubles, three triples, and 30 home runs for Triple-A Las Vegas in 447 plate appearances.

Now, it’s worth noting that Las Vegas hit .298/.371/.531 as a team in 2019. The ballpark, the league, and the juiced baseball played hilariously in Triple-A this past season. With that said, Mark Payton’s 1.053 OPS was good for an OPS+ of 149, so he was significantly better than the league average. Of course he was also a 27-year-old.

The outfielder did make some changes to his game, though. As noted in the breakdown over at – his fly ball rate dramatically increased in 2019 and the he reaped all of the benefits for making that change.

While there are absolutely reasons to wonder exactly how the bat will play given the kind of hitter Payton was prior to 2019, the change in approach certainly gives some hope that at least some of the breakout was real. He’s always had a good understanding of the strikezone, walking more than 10% of the time for his career, and making contact at a good rate. Defensively he can cover you in center field if you really need him to, but he’s stretched there as an every day kind of player. Then again, the Reds also played Jesse Winker in center field at times in 2019, so….. But in a realistic scenario, Payton is more of a corner outfield defender.

Dan Szymborki posted the ZiPS projections for the players selected in the Major League version of the Rule 5 Draft over at Fangraphs just now. Mark Payton is projected to hit .255/.315/.449 and provide the most WAR of any of the 11 players selected today.

The Reds also saw some action in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft. They picked up two players for the farm system. They also lost two players out of the farm system. You can read more about that at this link if you’re interested.

Photo of Nicholas Castellanos by Keith Allison and was edited. The license can be found here.

50 Responses

    • doofus

      Winker goes to the Rockies in a Blockbuster that includes Mahle and the Stephenson brothers for The Beard, Story and Freeland.

      A Suarez deal is next on the clock.

      • JB

        Colorado laughs you right out of the stadium .

      • doofus


        Enlighten yourself.

        Rox need a young catcher, starting and relief pitching and salary relief.

        Rodgers becomes their SS. Winker replaces Blackmon, Mahle moves into their rotation and the Stephenson bros fill their need behind the plate and in the bullpen.

        The trade simulator has the Reds overpaying.

      • Colorado Red

        Colorado Loves there own.
        Kyle, is a Cy Young candidate.
        Story is the 2nd coming of the babe, and will have a war greater the Trout.
        Charlie they would trade.

      • Ed

        Hopefully Winker to the A’s for Semien

      • doofus

        Wrong comparison. Story is not as ugly as the Babe and he does not pitch.

        You are also the person that said a couple of years ago that Story struck out too much.

        Mahle is also a Cy Young candidate. Freeland can be a Cy candidate for the Reds.

        Rockies realize that they need to make moves or become the moss on the bottom of the Dodger’s cleats, which shall it be?

      • Tomn

        Doug, you may never see this question as I’ve asked it so late but what is the status of TJ Friedl. I’m a fan of his. Apparently no one took him in the rule 5 draft. Is he still in the Reds organization?

    • DHud

      I don’t think this pick had anything to do with Winker other than adding organization depth and competition

    • Old-school

      He goes to first base after the Reds trade Joey Votto’s 4/106 to the Red Sox for David Price’s 3/92.

      • Colorado Red

        Then Votto says no, and stays here

      • TBD

        Exactly. No way Joey Votto is going to the Red Sox.
        I don’t think Joey really enjoys going to Philadelphia, the hecklers really get all over him. But, remember he is on the visiting team.
        However, in Boston they really get all over you and that includes their own players.

  1. RandyW

    David Price? I’d rather sign bumgarner or keuchel than trade a prospect and pay whatever boston doesn’t pay.

  2. Champ Summers

    Besides the ballpark and league factors and the change to the MLB spec ball did the A’s org do something different with this guy? That’s a crazy season for a player who’d never shown anything close to this performance in any season. Imagine if O’Grady and Aquino made their adjustments and then went into that park in the PCL.

  3. doofus

    There are still teams hurting for a third baseman, such as: PHI, WAS, ATL, NYM, MIL, TEX. Others that need to strengthen 3B: MIN, CWS, TB, BAL, CLV, KC, DET? Who is left on the FA market: Donaldson?

    Suarez goes to…; for…?

    • JB

      Suarez isnt going anywhere. Not with the team friendly contract he just signed. Who would play 3rd? Senzel? What has he actually done yet?

      • Curt

        The team friendly contract of Suarez is exactly what pushes his value to the mountain top. Moustakas is a 3rd baseman. It’s a natural position for Senzel. Three bench players can all back- up at 3rd.
        3rd base has more depth than any position on the team. On the other hand SS and CF have no serious depth at all.

      • doofus

        And there is DEMAND for 3B this offseason!

      • JB

        I forgot about Moose. Okay I’m listening. Here is one. The Mets got 6 starting pitchers now. Suarez and ? For Thor and McNeil. Going by stats would that be a fair trade ?

      • Curt

        @JB – Suarez for pitching isn’t the best way to go. You need to take his production and move it into positions of need…SS, CF, C, OF. To put it another way, the Reds need Suarez, they just don’t need him at 3b and his value is high enough that you spread your return over several positions.

      • Tom Mitsoff

        How about five years of Suarez as part of a package for Lindor? It would have to be Lindor plus one or more other players of note. I would not do Suarez for Lindor straight up, one for one.

      • Curt

        @Tom: absolutely, Suarez/Lindor is a great start but I agree “straight up” is not enough, primarily because of the years differential and that Lindor is gonna be nearly impossible to keep after 2 years,
        so an additional mlb or mlb ready player or 2! with say 3 or more years of control would definitely have to come back to the reds as well. Problem is I don’t know if the Indians have the CF, C or OF’er that the Reds need. So a 3rd team would have to be involved. Do-able I’d think. You’d then have 2 years to win with Lindor and plan for a replacement.

    • Curt

      For?…a shortstop and a centerfielder, or a CF and a C, can probably get another OF as well, one that’s better than Jankowski certainly. If they’re really clever, add a bullpen arm to that haul. They already have his replacement signed for 4 years. Probably will end up adding to payroll but last I heard, the Reds have plenty of money.

    • doofus

      The Braves along with Lodolo for Inciarte, Fried, Wright and Langeliers.

      Shazaam! Inciarte catching flyballs between Castellanos and the Beard. With Moose, Story, Senzel and Votto on the dirt; Barnhart behind the dirt. Langeliers and his rocket arm and awesome defense waiting in the wings.

      The offense has a 4-1-3 (Lefthand-Switch-Right handed swinging lineup) balance and defense.

      Gray, Castillo, Fried, Bauer, Freeland in the rotation with depth in Wright, Greene and Santillan.

      Igg, Lo, Amir, Reed, Sims, DeLeon, Romano, et al. in the pen.

  4. DocRed

    Doug with the way free agents are getting more than predicted by most what do you think it would take to get Castellanos here? I am thinking we will have to go 5 years and $80M. TIA

  5. DHud

    I vote all in on Castellanos. Pencil him in everyday in LF and let everyone else fight for a platoon split in RF

    • JB

      Agree or pkg winker in a trade for a shortstop or pitcher. I think Castellanos being a doubles machine gets Votto going again.

  6. Mark

    Agree let’s get Castellanos he will absolutely rake at GABP!!!

  7. JB

    Red Sox just signed Peraza. I would call them and see if they can take Boegarts off their hand.

  8. Phil

    The Reds need to find offense first and foremost and figure out where to play them defensively later. I see no reason why they can’t get enough playing time for Castellanos and the outfielders currently on the roster. That said if they could find another player that could legitimately handle center that would allow them to take advantage of Senzel’s versatility.
    Votto or Suarez need a day off then Moustakas moves to 1B or 3B and Senzel goes to 2B and ?? fills in at CF.

  9. Jeff Gangloff

    Im in on either Castellanos or Ozuna. Im warming up to the idea of Ozuna after looking at his statcast data and some of his advanced metrics. He’s in for a big bounce back year IMO. Steve had an awesome write up on it.

    If the Reds can bring in one of the two mentioned above and then trade for an upgrade at SS, then I’d be very satisfied.

  10. AirborneJayJay

    Castellanos would really cement the Reds every day lineup for the next few years. The INF will consist of Votto, Moustakas, and Suarez. The Of would consist of Castellanos in LF, Senzel in CF, and Winker/Ervin in RF. Or substitute Aquino for Ervin. One of those 2 will have to be traded. I don’t think either should go to AAA, so trade 1. The bench is shaping up as Casali, Farmer, Ervin, Aquino, Galvis.
    So if C is semi-settled with Barnhart, Casali and Farmer, that only leaves the SS position to get settled. I don’t consider Galvis at SS as that position being settled.
    Signing Castellanos will go a long way in giving the Reds every day lineup some consistency. Something the Big Red Machine had and was noted for.
    Then the search for a SS via trade can begin in earnest.

  11. Old-school

    Suarez is going nowhere. But if he did, the Braves top 3/4 prospects are all super and nearing MLB readiness. Christian Pasch to play CF for 6+ years, Kyle Wright or Ian Anderson as a mid rotation young starter and Drew Waters as a corner OF. Senzel slides to 3b.

    • doofus

      With the Reds on the cusp (hopefully) of the playoffs, I want MLB players leading a package plus prospect(s) for Suarez, not just prospects. I am not sure Pache is going to be such a great hitter in the “Bigs;” therefore, I prefer Inciarte (Siani is the future CF). I would want Fried, a major leaguer with 225+ major league innings. Wright and Langeliers would be acceptable prospects to fill out the package for Suarez and Lodolo.

    • BK

      I think the match lies with the Dodgers who have a two players capable of playing SS at high ML level and a desire to move Justin Turner off 3B. Perhaps Suarez for Verdugo and Seager would work. I don’t think the Braves have the right ML talent to match up with the Reds. While trying to compete, I can’t see the Reds moving Suarez for a prospect, even one as good as Pache especially given that he is likely to start the 2020 season at AAA.

  12. Hotto4Votto

    I’d love to see the Reds sign Castellanos. Out of all the FA’s he’s the one I hope for the most. His bat in our lineup would do wonders for the offense.

  13. Tom Corcoran

    I agree about Castellanos. He is a reliable bat. Sign him and trade Suarez for Marte or Bradley to play center or for a young shortstop like Correa. Ask for a MLB prospect in the trade as well. Hold off on Price and Bumgarner; they are expensive over-the-hill pitchers whose best days are long behind them. Be patient about pitching, Green and Lodolo will be coming up soon.

  14. Scott C

    I would love to have Correa, or Lindor or Trea Turner for that matter but I don’t realistically think the Reds are going to get any of them. They don’t line up with Cleveland in what Cleveland is looking for in return, Correa is going to cost too much in return value and Washington just lost Rendon they are not trading Turner. The better matchup might be foe Seager or Story but both of them are still going to cost. I would be willing to go with Galvis at short if we could up grade offensively at catcher, but even there the options are getting limited. Getting Castellanos would also be huge. I enjoyed Aquino one month surge this past year but I really don’t see that continuing unless they can fix his plate discipline and ability to recognize the breaking ball.

  15. doofus

    Some of us laugh at Jose Peraza, but I believe that he will resurrect himself, possibly in Boston. He had 182n hits in 2018. I firmly believe that he is not a player that thrives in a platoon situation that Bell imposed upon him.

    • Curt

      I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re right. It’s a movie sequel we keep seeing. I wouldn’t be surprised if Peraza see’s the post-season before the Redlegs.

      Peraza would probably be alright in a platoon situation if it was a consistent and disciplined platoon at a favorable position or even if it was a consistent and defined utility role. Bell couldn’t settle on anything, by mid-season he had him in the outfield for Pete’s sake! You could almost see the confidence draining out of him. Bell did the same thing with Van Meter.

      Now I’m not saying we should have kept him, just that if managed properly and given confidence, he could be a useful contributor for the right team. That it was the Red Sox of all teams that picked him up and this quickly should provide a nice boost of confidence in and of itself. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

      • BK

        The Reds gave Peraza nearly 2,000 plate appearances over 4 seasons over which he produced an OPS+ of 80 (well below ML average). He was issued a starting position in consecutive years. That’s a lot of confidence to be extended to a player … he had every opportunity.

        In 2019, his first half split was a paltry .608 OPS. He actually improved by almost 60 points in the second half. I agree he appeared to lack confidence last year, but that’s not the manager’s fault. 30 of 30 managers would have relegated Peraza into a utility role … his performance left them no choice.

        Good luck to him in Boston. I hope he thrives with what will be his fourth organization — none of which could unlock his potential.