The Cincinnati Reds remain interested in free agent outfielder Nicholas Castellanos according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network. They aren’t the only team, though, as Heyman also noted that the Rangers and  “others” are also in.

Earlier this week saw Marcell Ozuna sign with the Atlanta Braves on a 1-year and $18M deal. The Reds had been reportedly interested in his services as well. That he wound up taking a deal for only one season was rather surprising. That Cincinnati perhaps passed on a deal at those terms was also surprising – but, it’s certainly possible they had a better offer out there and he chose to not take it.

Of course it’s possible that they preferred Nicholas Castellanos and felt they had a chance to landing him and decided to go in a different direction. The Reds outfield is pretty crowded as it is. As the 40-man roster is currently constructed, it feels safe to say that Nick Senzel, Shogo Akiyama, Jesse Winker, and Aristides Aquino are all going to be on the opening day roster if healthy. But beyond those guys, you’ve also got Phillip Ervin, Travis Jankowski, Mark Payton, and Scott Schebler vying for spots in the outfield – and none of those guys can be sent to the minor leagues without hitting the waiver wire first. Payton was the Reds Rule 5 draft pick, while the other three are all out of options. Josh VanMeter may also be playing for one of those roster spots, though he can also play the infield.

So where exactly does Nicholas Castellanos fit in? That’s a pretty big question. He would be the best hitter of the group – or at least the one projected to be the best hitter from the group in 2020. His inclusion would likely push Aristides Aquino out of a job for the time being and give the Reds the outfield options of two right handed bats in Nick Senzel along with Castellanos to mix in with the lefty bats of Shogo Akiyama and Jesse Winker in some sort of mix-and-match outfield.

Last week Reds President of Baseball Operations Dick Williams said that he expected the Reds to add to the big league roster before spring training. Adding Nicholas Castellanos would be a pretty big add. He’s easily the biggest bat still available on the market, and he has been for quite a while now. Of course, with his bat also comes his glove, and that’s probably the reason that it’s late January and he’s still available. Defensively, Castellanos doesn’t do a whole lot. He’s been a negative defender as an outfielder in his career, and depending on which metric you want to look at, he’s either merely below-average or somewhere around the worst outfielder in the league. That said, defensive metrics aren’t exactly on par with their offensive counterparts in terms of accuracy or reliability. It’s fair to say he gives back some offense with his glove, but how much is very debatable.

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.

68 Responses

  1. Joey

    I dont understand the pessimism toward this new front office. What we’ve seen the last two years shows the shift to more analytics and a willingness to sign free agents, make trades and let go of players that did not pan out. They continue to be working to improve this team. Yes it took longer than we expected but here we are ready to compete in 2020.

    • Dewey Roberts

      I like Dick Williams much better than Walt Jocketty. Williams looks at all aspects.

      • D Ray White

        True that. Jocketty’s time in the sun has passed. Other than the Puig/Wood trade of last year, Williams has been pretty solid at the helm. Not great, but pretty decent.

  2. Indy Red Man

    Why would the Cubs let Castellanos walk? He was their best hitter and a clubhouse leader as well. I don’t get it? Great if the Reds could get him, but I don’t see it. They’d have to trade somebody just to make room unless they plan on something outside of the box like Suarez to SS.

    • Doug Gray

      The Cubs are trying to not spend money. And they didn’t exactly have a choice in letting him walk. He was a free agent – they didn’t release him. And they wouldn’t have to trade anyone if they just played the 4-guy outfield rotation and sent Aquino to the bench or Triple-A.

      • MBS

        Sending Aquino to AAA would be ridiculous. His talent is greater than every other Reds outfielder. He put together a heck of a 1 1/2 months in the pro’s. Players don’t stay hot, so a cold spell is bound to happen after such a scorching hot streak. He rebounded before the month ended. If the Reds do get Castellanos, other movement will happen. A trade or a position change for Senzel.

      • Doug Gray

        Aristides Aquino has played less than two whole months in the Major Leagues in his career. He has one very good month. And one very bad month. I think it’s a bit much to suggest his talent is greater than every other Reds outfielder. A year ago he was literally put on waivers, and cleared them.

      • MBS

        He also had a .299 AVG, .356 OBP, and 28 HR last season in AAA before he went on to hit 19 more in the pros. There is no other OF on this team with his power (47 HR’s) or his arm. To put that kind of player in AAA would be misguided to say the least. Again he had a bad 2 weeks sept 1 – 16. Every player has a cold streaks. I am not so crazy to think he is a lock to be a all star, but giving what he showed in 19, it would be negligent of the Reds to not give him the shot to prove 19 was no fluke.

      • Doug Gray

        And he’s also a guy who has a track record of not getting on base. The reliability factor with Aquino is like a scratch off lottery ticket. You could win a million bucks. But you aren’t very likely to.

        And Aquino didn’t exactly do well in the second half of September…. he hit some home runs. And also had a .270 OBP in the last two weeks of the season. To you that might be him rebounding from that first half of September cold streak. To me? It’s not.

        I’m not saying cut the guy. I’m saying that he’s very, very unproven, and has some real markers in his game that he won’t be able to repeat what he did in 2019.

      • Tom

        I see this whole offseason as a big ole swing and a miss. Sure we made some changes but I don’t feel like we’ve increased our offense at all and I think we are left with a roster that’s completely out of balance. Honestly, we are placing on hopes on all of these signees having career years in order for us to be a contender. We’ve signed some worn out arms and some marginal every day talent but we missed out on our shortstop and our catcher which as we sit here a month from Spring Training remain our two biggest holes. We seem to be “in” on everybody but getting nobody. One could argue that we could have signed Scooter Genett and gotten just as much or more than Moustaksas. We could have resigned Puig, put him rf let him hit 50. Our bullpen needs depth, our closer last year was just awful. I look at this roster, I see maybe 3-5 win improvement. I expected more.

      • JayTheRed

        Honestly, What happens Doug if he has a great spring though. The Fans will rip the team apart for sending him down.

        I’d rather they give Aquino a chance to perform and if he doesn’t then send him down. Remember how Todd Fraizer was a late bloomer too.

        Nick Castellanos does seem like a nice upgrade though and it would be a tough decision if a trade didn’t happen.

      • Doug Gray

        Having too many good options is not a problem is my answer.

    • Matt WI

      Cuts are in a world of decision making pain until the Bryant arbitration case is finally brought to a close. Additionally, was hearing on radio this morning that they are launching their own tv station and haven’t come to terms with Comcast, which it was said owns about 50% of their market. Those are a lot of numbers that need to get filled in. Plus trying to get below the luxury tax.

    • Matt WI

      And while he did spark them with his bat in Sept, he was basically only there for a month, so hard to know what kind of clubhouse leader he really was in that short of time. And they cratered in September overall!

    • MBS

      Believe me it’s not just you, many people are afraid of what Aquino will show up in 2020, and I am one as well. I think the Reds realize that also. Shogo I think is the insurance policy for all of our OF. Senzel has yet to put up a healthy season, Winker is a health risk, Aquino’s production is an unknown. My only point was, many people are ready to move on from the guy. Put him in AAA and let him reprove he can maul AAA pitchers? I just think we’re past that stage. The Reds have to begin the year as if Aquino will get 500 + AB’s.

  3. Mark

    I believe if you sign castellanos he is the starting LF. I believe then you need to look at putting together a package for shortstop Seager. I’m floating Iglesias India Winker Casali for Seager.

    • Optimist

      I’ve been thinking there’s a Seager deal for sometime now, much more so than Lindor, though a 3-team deal with both could have happened. Only issue with your list is Casali – that leaves only Tucker, and an injury away from enormous problems. Let’s not forget the legendary Lavarnway game and how we got there – don’t want to repeat that.

      Dodgers always look for pitching, and we’ve got lots of that to spare – add another RP to Iggy instead of Casali, and there’s the deal.

      • Mark

        I was thinking this would be a way to get farmer at bats as 2nd catcher until Tyler Stevenson might be ready towards August/September to come up from the Bats. Also might help roster crunch if they sign Brock Holt.

    • Jefferson Green

      While I would love to have Seager, I cannot help but think the Dodgers would require a fair amount more for him. Casali and Winker have overall value as players, but add almost nothing to the Dodgers, so they would be valued near zero. India is no longer a top 100 guy, and Iglesias is a good reliever, but not a shut-down closer type. Because Seager still has a chance to bounce back to elite, MVP type of value creation, the ask is high. If he continues to produce at a more pedestrian level post-injury, then the ask will drop by mid-season.

  4. Sliotar

    Pro – Every free agent OF signed this winter, to date, only has received a 1 or 2-year deal.

    Link: https://www.fangraphs.com/roster-resource/free-agent-tracker?pos=of

    Perhaps Castellanos may not have the market he thought was originally possible, and that could benefit the Reds, with money still to spend.

    Plus, if winning matters…while the Reds are far from a playoff lock, IMO, the path appears easier in Cincinnati than in Texas (Astros, A’s, Angels all projected with more wins ATM.)

  5. Sliotar

    Con –

    2020 Steamer Projections –

    Player A – 661 PAs, 112 wRC+, 1.5 WAR

    Player B – 482 PAs, 114 wRC+, 1.3 WAR

    Player A is Castellanos.
    Player B is Winker.

    And, hard to believe Winker’s defense would be measurably worse than Castellanos’s … if he were given more than 50 PA’s vs. LHP, as he was in 2019.

    If there is money to be spent and Castellanos wants to sign up…why not.

    Still does not replace the need for a game-changing SS.

    • Big Ed

      Winker will cost about $14 million less than Castellanos, too. That is money the Reds can use at the deadline, to pick up a rental like Andrelton Simmons.

      EDR

    • ClayMC

      I might be missing something, but I’m not sure if I understand the comparison. Wouldn’t signing Castellanos take more significant playing time away from Aquino, not Winker? If that’s the case, why not compare steamer projections between those two (Aquino: 507 ABs, 94 wRC+, 0.5 WAR)?

      And even if you did make the argument that signing Castellanos would be taking playing time away from Winker, which is definitely within the realm of possibility due to their polar opposite handedness splits, I think the platoon advantage provides many more operating efficiencies than what’s captured in a season long steamer projection.

      If Castellanos signed, I’d be absolutely thrilled with the idea that we’d have a composite left fielder that hits with a 130ish wRC+ against righties (Winker) and a 170ish wRC+ against lefties (Castellanos). Throw in a mix of Senzel/Shogo in CF and Castellanos/Shogo in RF, and I’m starting to get really optimistic about our offensive output. There’s obviously still concern at SS and C, but hey, you can’t have studs at every position.

      • VaRedsFan

        Catellanos is not going to sign a free agent deal, then sit the bench on the wrong side of a 80-20 platoon split.

      • Chris Holbert

        If the Reds give Castellanos FA money, he will not sit against RH pitching….

      • ClayMC

        I’m not suggesting Castellanos sit the bench. I’m implying that Castellanos would get 30% of starts in left field (against lefties), and 60+% of starts in right field (against righties).

        Castellanos: 90% of starts (30% left field + 60% right field)
        Winker: 70% of starts (all left field)
        Senzel: 70% of starts (all center field)
        Shogo: 70% (30% center field + 40% right field)

  6. MK

    Guess I would rather see the resources spent elsewhere.

  7. DavisRobbedYou

    Don’t spend money just to appease the fans.. I’m happy with the team now and ready to see what we have.. Save the money and midseason, if we need to trade for a piece, money won’t be an issue.

  8. AirborneJayJay

    This is great news. I’m telling you it’s going to be 3 years and $54MM to $60MM. Gives Castellanos another shot at another deal at his age 30 season. After jacking his numbers for 3 years at GABP. Its a win for the Reds and its a win for Castellanos.
    I think this then would help to move Senzel to SS and Akiyama takes CF. I think the Reds will be OK with Senzel at SS. I wouldn’t have thought that possible, but it looks like that is the path they are preparing to take.
    It’s only a few weeks before camp opens up. They haven’t been able to trade for a SS, so they re-visit Senzel at SS.

    • VaRedsFan

      It’s impossible these days that we don’t get a Senzel to shorstop post. This is not happening.
      I wish it was, but this idea was “trash”-canned 2 years ago when he tried it, and the baseball people said he would never be a MLB SS.

      • JB

        Maybe so and I am right there with you on Senzel isnt playing Shortstop. But I have read posts by a couple of other writers on different sites that said Senzel will be the dark horse Shortstop this year. I guess we will see.

      • DHud

        Unless any of those writers were named David Bell or Dick Williams…ain’t happening

      • JoshG

        “idea was “trash”-canned 2 years ago when he tried it, and the baseball people said he would never be a MLB SS.”

        I have no idea if Senzel could handle SS or not but ………….. I am still waiting to see this quote or anything similar from anyone actually with the Reds …
        They moved him to 2B because that’s where the first opening was supposed to be… I never heard or saw anyone from the Reds ever say he would never Be a MLB SS.

      • Old-school

        DW gave an interview to Lance Mccalister after the Shogo signing. He was asked point blank could Senzel move to SS. The answer was in the short term – no. Williams said with Senzel coming back from shoulder surgery , they didn’t want to tax his arm and SS is the toughest position. He did not say no in the long term. He also said they didn’t want to go all in with Senzel at SS with no plan B. He said Shogo and Senzel and Moose all will do whatever they are asked. He made a vague reference David Bell could get Senzel at bats if Shogo is in CF with guys moving around.

        If senzel’s shoulder is 100% and he has a great spring, I could see a scenario later in the summer where Senzel gets some time at SS as the back up to Galvis as a tryout for 2021. Trae Turner moved back and forth from CF to SS for several years until landing at SS.

  9. G-Man

    Please Dick, be quick, add another stick, sign Nick!

  10. Amarillo

    If it happens I’d be pleased, but an outfield with both Castellanos and Winker sounds like an adventure.

    • Big Ed

      Castellanos has grim defensive metrics, and his defense looks even grimmer to the naked eye.

  11. Klugo

    Could it be the Reds are trying to dive the price up for others? Far-fetched??

  12. NYRedsfan

    I would much rather see a move for a SS. Not sold on Galvis as an everyday starting SS. jmo

  13. Hotto4Votto

    I realize the market dictated much of this, but the roster construction is a little odd. Our best defensive 3B/2B plays CF. We signed another CF to play RF. We signed another 3B to play 2B. Our best offensive player also plays 3B. One of, if not arguably the highest rated, prospect also plays 3B. Lots of 3B/2B options.
    I realize it’s not as easy as just saying it, but seems that the Reds would have better served by trying to sign Castellanos and Akiyama and moving Senzel to the dirt. That, or we try to leverage a 3B into SS help. Which is still a viable option.

    • MBS

      Senzel is a square peg, we keep trying to put into a round hole. If they do sign Castellanos, my guess is we pound that peg into the SS hole. Saying Senzel is a SS is no less ridiculous than saying he’s a CF. With the addition of Moustakes at 2B, the Reds clearly have said defense will take a back seat to offense in 2020. Galvis could then be a utility guy and defensive replacement.

      • RojoBenjy

        Senzel cannot be any worse at SS than Suárez was—can he?

  14. Tom Mitsoff

    If Castellanos is willing to sign with Reds, Dick Williams should deliver the pen and contract to him personally.

    Signing him might make the outfield more “crowded,” but it also makes the team better by adding an impact bat without surrendering any player assets.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a boatload of talented outfielders and having to figure out how to best utilize them. Sometimes we have a mindset that Winker and Aquino are amazing hitters that must play everyday. They both have had streaks where they have been amazing, but not consistently. We hope Akiyama is an on-base machine, but how he will adapt to the differences between Japanese and U.S. baseball is still anyone’s guess.

    Adding Castellanos would allow the front office to offer outfielder(s) in a trade for a shortstop.

    Castellanos is reportedly dreadful defensively, but there are ways to deal with that — late game defensive replacements such as perhaps Lorenzen is one way.

    The Reds still have money to spend. There is absolutely no reason in my mind why they should not sign Castellanos, unless of course he does not want to sign with the Reds. He would be the missing impact bat, and definitely put this team as the favorite to win the NL Central.

    • AirborneJayJay

      I couldn’t agree more. It just makes too much sense.

    • Bill J

      Tom, with all the outfielders we have it sounds like they’re not confident in what they have.

      • Tom Mitsoff

        If the goal is to compete for a title, I am not confident in what they have. Among the current group there is not one player who is a proven everyday major league impact bat. Now if the mindset is, let’s hand these positions over to Winker and Aquino and see if they can consistently capture some of those flashes of brilliance from the past, to me that’s a strategy of a team that is not trying its best to win. It was my opinion that when the off-season started, the Reds needed to land three impact bats. Moustakas is definitely one, and Akiyama was one in Japan. One more is still needed. Last year’s offense was terrible, so saying that those guys are the answer is a mistake — IF you want to win. If you want to instead be in a rebuild mode and develop young players at the major league level, that’s fine. But the Reds have told us they are done with that.

      • Amarillo

        Bill J

        Don’t think of it as not being confident in what we have, think of it as defending against injuries. Last year, before we saw how much improvement Castillo had made, our number 1 starter was Alex Wood. If one of Senzel/Winker/Akiyama get hurt (two of which had DL stints last year and 1 who needs to get used to MLB pitching) then we are either relying on Aquino to learn how to be consistent, or Ervin who can’t hit Right Handers.

    • Tom Reeves

      Any word on Holt?

      I think the platoon of Winker/Phervin is going to be quite strong. If their past performances hold, we’ve may have a .900+ OPS for that platoon.

      I’m more concerned with the Akiyama/Aquino platoon (and also knowing Akiyama will also rotate with Senzel). If we have the Nippon League Akiyama OBP and the August Aquino SLG, it’s hard for me to see an everyday Castellanos as a better option. But, if Akiyama fails to transition well or we get the September Aquino, Castellanos is probably a better bet offensively.

      According to the Outs Above Replacement metrics, Winker is the only horrific defender in the OF. The rest of the current outfield is league average to above average. And, it doesn’t appear Winker is so horrible as to negate his bat against RHP. Adding Castellanos would complicate the defense.

      Now, maybe signing Castellanos and sending Aquino to Louisville until he gets super hot is a smart move for Aquino and the Reds. And, maybe Castellanos/Akiyama platoon makes a ton of sense. We’d basically have an outfield against RHP of Winker in LF, Senzel in CF, and Akiyama in RF and against LHP we’d have Castellanos in LF, Senzel in CF, and Ervin in RF with Aquino hanging out in AAA waiting to get hot or for an injury.

      I gotta say, this is not an easy choice for the front office. It’s easy to see this all going well and it’s easy to see it going to poo.

      • Chris Holbert

        I do not believe they signed Shogo to platoon….or that they would sign Castellanos to platoon..

    • Nick in NKY

      I agree with this 100%. It ain’t my money, and having too many potential MLB OF’s is a good problem to have. Also, I suspect that over the course of a 162 game season, performance or injuries here or elsewhere (necessitating a trade from someone else’s desire to stay competitive) will help sort the problem out.

    • JayTheRed

      Thoughts…

      I would like to see them sign Castellanos.
      What about Puig?
      If we end up with no trade after we get one of those two, and we have way too many outfielders does everyone play average or poorly since none are getting enough playing time?

  15. SultanofSwaff

    Castellanos had 58 (!) doubles last year and 27 HRs…….in GABP he’ll go bonkers. As we read a couple weeks ago, the difference between a very good defender and an average one is one extra out every 2 weeks. I’ll make that tradeoff for a bat this good.
    I like Aquino, but not enough to pass up an opportunity to add a slam dunk 3 win player hitting his prime at around the same price as Moose.

    Get. it. done.

    • Matt WI

      My only caution there is that the bulk of his doubles came in the larger outfield of Comerica Park out there in Detroit (which he desperately wanted to get away from)… hopefully some of those will just translate into GABP wall-scrapper specials!

    • Doc

      Is that the same level of bonkers that Puig went, considering he was expected to be unstoppable in GABP?

      • JayTheRed

        Even I thought Puig would rake in Cincy. I was sadly wrong.

        .. Wow I don’t admit that very often.

    • Jefferson Green

      Reminder: GABP surpresses doubles – it is a compact outfield that rewards homers while making other hits more difficult. If a player (Castellanos or other) doesn’t have a launch angle that turns doubles and triples (and fly balls) into homers, then his performance will drop in this ballpark.

  16. Tom Mitsoff

    On Twitter, there is some speculation that perhaps Castellanos is waiting for the Cubs to clear some payroll and prefers to rejoin that team. If so, he’s taking a risk that he may regret. We’ll see what happens.

  17. AirborneJayJay

    Surveying the landscape for Castellanos.
    Could be players = CIN, TEX.
    Probably not players = CHW, CHC, STL, TOR, SF, ARZ.
    Definitely not players = NYY, BOS, TB, BAL, MIN, CLE, DET, KC, HOU, OAK, LAA, SEA, ATL, NYM, PHL, WAS, MIA, MIL, PIT, LAD, COL, SD.

    That is a market inefficiency the Reds should exploit to the max. He is there for the taking.

  18. Mark Moore

    If he moves the needle in terms of value provided, fine. If not, we go with what we have. Seems like he’s overestimated his market value at least a little, but we really don’t know much.

    It’s an interesting line up construction to be sure. But you can’t deny the FO has made moves that should make an impact. All that is on paper for now … proof lies in the results as we all know.

    Is it game time yet?

  19. MBS

    The only way Castellanos makes sense is if it allows the Reds to upgrade SS. It could be a trade, or moving Senzel to SS. Personally I’d rather have Puig than Castellanos.

    Winker / Shogo / Puig
    Shogo / Aquino / Puig
    Winker / Shogo / Aquino
    Winker / Aquino / Puig

    In that 4 man outfield you have 1 defensive liability, if you add Castellanos you have 2. If I believed Castellanos was offensively better or much better than Puig, I’d accept the lack of D.

    • Jefferson Green

      Castellanos was far better than Puig offensively in 2019 – 21% better than league average versus 1% better than league average. Yes, Puig is a better fielder (though still below average by most metrics) and a more valuable baserunner, but 20% better in hitting has significantly more value.

      • MBS

        He did have a better 19 for sure, but the previous 2 seasons are very comprable. I’m not anti Castellanos, I am pro Puig. If you said would you like a slice of pizza, and one was pepperoni, and the other sausage, I’d opt for the pepperoni. If the pepperoni wasn’t an option, I’d be very happy to get a slice of the sausage. BTW I’m getting hungry…

  20. Steve Schoenbaechler

    I can’t help thinking that, if the Reds are still in on Nick, that Nick is actually their Plan C, D, or E in getting a better bat into the lineup. I mean, we simply have enough OF’s as it is. If they were to sign Nick, I couldn’t help thinking they are going to have to DFA a couple of OF’s.

  21. G-Man

    As has been mentioned already by several posters, by adding Castellanos, it opens up other trade options for the Reds to improve at SS. Here’s my take:

    In order to trade for Corey Seager, the Reds offer can’t be meager, but they can’t let the Dodgers think they are over-eager, they probably need to include at least one major leaguer, and in the end they could still bring back Puig-er! 🙂