The Cincinnati Reds are reportedly the front runner to sign free agent outfielder Nicholas Castellanos according to Jon Morosi of MLB.com.

Even after signing free agent outfielder Shogo Akiyama in December, the Cincinnati Reds remained in pursuit of both Marcell Ozuna and Nicholas Castellanos. Last week Ozuna signed a 1-year deal worth $18M with the Atlanta Braves, reportedly turning down a multi-year offer from the Reds in the process.

With Ozuna off of the market, it’s very clear that Nicholas Castellanos is the top player available in free agency. He’s a big bat, hitting .289/.337/.525 last season, but really going off once he joined the Cubs for the final 51 games last year and hitting .321/.356/.646 with Chicago. That included a Major League best 58 doubles to go along with three triples and 27 home runs. He’s been an extra-base hit machine over the last three seasons.

Back in December it was reported that while the Reds were showing interest in Castellanos, his preference at the time was with a few other teams. It would appear that things may have shifted if that report, and the one from Jon Morosi from today are correct.

Cincinnati’s got plenty of money to spend, or so it would appear. And they have been trying to find a way to improve their offense all offseason. Adding Mike Moustakas and Shogo Akiyama certainly help with that, but tossing in Castellanos would be another big step in the right direction.

The signing would leave open the question of how does the lineup play out. Bringing Castellanos on board, it would seem to push someone out. Aristides Aquino or Jesse Winker could see a reduction in playing time in the corners with a new addition to go along with Akiyama and Senzel. The old saying goes that having too many good players is never a bad thing. And it’s not. But it certainly makes for a tough way to get everyone playing time, too. This is all pure speculation at this point, because the signing hasn’t happened. But if it does, the Reds have some real figuring out to do with their outfield.

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.

57 Responses

  1. Klugo

    Tells you something about how they feel about the incumbent OFers.

  2. FreeHouse

    Go get Castellanos! I know his defense is not great but I really believe in GABP his bat will be something special.

      • FreeHouse

        Come on now Puigs defense is solid but his bat has always been mediocre at best. Castellanos will be the real deal in Cinci.

      • Stock

        How can you compare Castellanos to Puig?

        Puig was a platoon player in LA. His OPS vs. LHB in 2017 was .592. In 2018 it was .628. not everyday player material.

        Castellanos has been north of .800 both vs. LHP and RHP the last two years. No comparison.

      • TR

        I like Puig, certainly his defense and arm, but his offense is inconsistent.

  3. Mark Moore

    If it happens I’m thinking is a trade brewing for a SS.

    • CI3J

      100% this. I’ve felt that the reason they have not moved for a SS is because they have been told they have to include one of the OF players (probably Senzel) for the trade to happen.

      If the Reds signe Castellanos and then trade Senzel for Lindor, the Reds offense would look scary-good. Lots and lots of power and OBP skills, and a good balance of LH/RH hitters. I think the lineup would be something like this:

      SS Lindor (Sw)
      1B Votto (L)
      3B Suarez (R)
      2B Moustakas (L)
      LF Castellanos (R)
      CF Akiyama (L)
      RF Aquino/Winker (R/L)
      C Barnhart

      Hitters 1-5 are an absolute Murderer’s Row of OPS. When someone like Joey Votto least-threatening hitter, you know you have a good offense.

      The bottom 3 are slight question marks, but if Akiyama hits up to projections, and if Aquino can re-discover 75% of his August form, and if Barnhart can keep hitting like he did in the 2nd half last year….. None of these things are unreasonable. But if they come to pass, wow….. This offense would be seriously frightening. Coupled with an already stellar pitching staff, and this team should be well-positioned to really make noise this season.

      • Mark Moore

        Add to that 81 games in GABP plus another high percentage of games in Wrigley and Milwaukee … I’d love to see that lineup. I’d say our pitching staff has shown they can hold the line. Even giving up some defense in the outfield, this would be an exciting team to watch.

        I still owe Doug some nostalgic thoughts about the 1990 baseball cards I got this year. May be time to write those down and send a few pictures off.

      • JD

        Love it!
        Crazy thought… In this scenario, do they bat Akiyama 9 to turn the batting order over?

    • Stock

      if they get Castellanos I am not sure there is any money left for a SS.

      • vegastypo

        Just speculating, of course, but if they get Lindor, Galvis would likely have to go the other way. There’s $5 million right back out the door. Depending on another team’s needs, could Raisel Iglesias go too? That’d be another $8 or $9 million.

    • Rod Andrews

      Right now the reds main concern should be getting another bonna fide shortstop. If galvis gets hurt they have absolutely no one to play as. Why they let peraza go so easily really bugs me. He could back up both ss and 2b, and fairly cheaply.

  4. burtgummer

    Once it’s done I’ll be enthusiastic

  5. Optimist

    Still think this sets up a Seager deal. He’s less expensive than Lindor, and I suspect we could keep Senzel as well. Think the Dodgers would take Iggy/Winker/and some prospects. Perhaps Galvis or another RP if they want all MLB level.

    • Colorado Red

      But unless LA gets a better SS (Lindor?). why would they trade Seager?

      • Optimist

        Lux, as drunken viking notes, or a 3-way and they end up with Lindor.

      • NyRedsfan

        Or a 3 way and they end up with Betts

  6. Old-school

    58 doubles and 27 home runs.
    Castellanos and Moustakis can both flat hit and each from opposite sides. Proven big bats.. No idea how the OF works and defense is an issue but good SP and good offense is baseball.

  7. Hotto4Votto

    It would be great to land Castellanos. Out of all the FA corner OF guys he’s the one I liked the best. If it allows for a trade of Winker or Senzel for a difference making SS, then all the better. Hope there’s some truth to the rumors. His bat would be dangerous in the lineup.

  8. Bred

    Maybe sign him at a decent price and keep Senzel, and use Shogo or him for trade bait for a SS. Something must be brewing because I think they want to keep Senzel or he would be gone by now.

    • DAVID F. HERRMANN

      Shogo will not be trade bait

    • Colorado Red

      Cannot sign a FA, and they trade him right away.
      I think they could at the trade deadline, Not sure what the minimum is.
      Also, I doubt anyone else signs with you, without a no trade clause.

      • vegastypo

        And if the Reds do that with the very first player they sign out of Japan, can you imagine the odds of ever getting any other player from there?

  9. Old-school

    I sign him and once Senzel proves he’s healthy and ready to play every day and has a good healthy arm….he gets some reps at SS. Dick Williams said they don’t want Senzel coming back from shoulder surgery and playing SS and not having a plan B. He never said anything about the long term. Galvis is renting SS.

  10. Bdh

    With that pitching staff and an already improved lineup there is no need to pay the outrageous prices for some of the shortstops rumored to be on the trading block right now. They have plenty enough to compete in the central already before this possible addition and more options at shortstop will open up at the deadline for a lot less than they’re priced now. That way the reds can take their shot now and still hold on to the future of the team too.

    • Stock

      if they get Castellanos I am not sure there is any money left for a SS.

      • Colorado Red

        still need a backup SS, in case Galvis gets hurt.
        Maybe a Brock Holt?

      • Bdh

        Senzel to Shortstop. Until Williams or Krall say otherwise in spring training I don’t see this not being an option now. He played CF last year because there were 2 shortstops, 2 2B and the only other mlb CF option was Schebler. 2 years ago they had him working as a shortstop so I don’t see why it can’t be done now.

        1 Akiyama – cf
        2 Votto – 1b
        3 Castellanos – LF
        4 Suarez – 3b
        5 Moustakas – 2b
        6 Winker/Aquino – RF
        7 Senzel – SS
        8 Tucker – c
        9 pitcher

      • Doug Gray

        Dick Williams said otherwise two weeks ago.

      • Bdh

        2 weeks ago is a much different situation than what the reds might have “if” Castellanos signs.

        If Castellanos signs with Texas, San Francisco or any other team then I agree don’t touch Senzel. However, If the reds sign him then the situation changes imo. Might as well pencil Castellanos in for 145 games in one corner outfield spot, let Winker and Aquino platoon in the other, and when Akiyama needs rest in center, which wasn’t often in Japan, Ervin or Senzel can play out there. You can’t sit Senzel that mamy games though and he has already played shortstop in college, AAA, and for the reds in spring training.

        With too many mouths to feed in the outfield and a need for another shortstop I just see it as an easy answer. I say this even though Ive agreed with you about moving him or Suárez there up to this point. signing another outfielder of that caliber just changes my opinion.

  11. Tom Mitsoff

    If this happens, the Reds will be the favorites in the NL Central. My guess is that the contract will be at least in the $17M AAV range, and that is not someone who will be platooning. Castellanos will be in left or right every day. The article cited above by B-town Fan indicates that Castellanos’ defense improved considerably last year, if you believe defensive analytics. David Bell will then decide among Akiyama, Senzel, Winker and Aquino who will play center and right every day.

    You have to believe that Akiyama did not sign with the understanding that he might platoon. While not a certainty, it seems like a trade of an outfielder would be in the cards after a Castellanos signing — hopefully for a shortstop.

    • B-town fan

      Yes Tom the article stated that most of his defensive deficiency was in his jumps on the ball not his overall speed, and that is something that can be improved up on. He’s only been an outfielder for a short time. Plus he was originally a third baseman so he has the arm.

    • JayTheRed

      Wondering if its not a SS, maybe one of the OF’ers go for a really good reliever with a good track record?
      I would prefer a SS or heck even a upgrade at Catcher (not likely) but would be nice. I am not against Tucker especially if he can play like he did in the 2nd half.

      Also agree I don’t think Akiyama is going to be platooning much. Unless he has a bad start perhaps then.

      Someone above also said something about possibly trading Akiyama… I’m almost 100 percent sure that won’t happen. They invested a lot into this guy both in time and money.

  12. AirborneJayJay

    I told you it was happening. This is outstanding news for the Reds offense.
    They will have to make 40 man roster moves.
    I think you then see a trade with Toronto sending Aquino, Mahle and Kuhnel for their closer Ken Giles.

    • FreeHouse

      That would be way too much for Ken Giles. The Reds bullpen is not the main concern. If they do land Castellanos, SS would be the next position for the team to worry about. You can always add bullpen arms during the trade deadline.

      • Rod Andrews

        I agree with you 100pct. Galvis gets hurt early they have no one else to play as, and it could quickly go south. However, galvis as a backup would be excellent.

      • Greenfield Red

        If no other SS is available and Galvis gets hurt, does that not almost force Senzel to short?

    • Michael E

      Always be trading closers, NOT trading for them and Ken Giles is VERY mediocre and shouldn’t take more than ONE good prospect. That would be a massive overpay. Would you send those three for R Iglesias? I wouldn’t and he is (save for last year), much better than Giles.

      • Kevin F Patrick

        I think the Jays are actually kind of going for it this year anyway. Best to probably look elsewhere.

  13. AirborneJayJay

    Castellanos is of Cuban decent on his father’s side. Cincinnati’s recent good history with Cuban players should help.
    His mother is from Michigan and he had loads of relatives there. Cincinnati isn’t very far off. It isn’t as close as Chicago, but still close. Reds have that going for the.
    But the Reds have a need for his bat and have the money and budget room to sign him.
    My concern, as a Boras client, there almost undoubtedly will be an opt out clause for Castellanos somewhere in there. Even with a 3 or 4 year deal I can see an.opt out after year 2. I hope the Reds hold out for no opt out. This could be where negotiations get sticky.

    • Michael E

      I have NO ISSUES with an opt-out. It can be a good thing for the Reds. The only way he opts out is if he plays great, which means extra motivated player for a couple of seasons. Now, I would think the Reds would get some kind of buy out at same timeline of an opt-out (it wouldn’t be cheap), in case Castellanos becomes Eric Hosmer or something.

      • AllTheHype

        An early buy out for the club is essentially an opt out for the club and you can be sure Boras will not be the first agent to agree to such a provision in the contract.

  14. DrunkenViking

    Sign him. If no deal is on the table for a SS, sign Brock Holt. Trade some outfield depth for a shut down bullpen arm. Get ready for spring training.

    • JayTheRed

      If we can’t get a good upgrade at SS I would be perfectly happy with that Idea.

  15. Bob Purkey

    The added benefit to Castellanos is that he can fill in at 3B and 1B in a pinch. While that is not where you would EVER think about playing him on a regular basis, having that availability certainly helps much more than Ozuna would have.

  16. Big Ed

    I predict that Senzel’s shoulder will not be ready for the start of the season, and that for the first few weeks the Reds will mix and match Castellanos, Akiyama, Winker and Aquino in the outfield.

    They have 6 inter-league road games by April 20, so there should be plenty of ABs for all of them. By the end of April, when Senzel may be ready to return, they will have a better handle on where AA and Shogo are and how it will all sort out.

    They can live with Galvis for a while. I think Andrelton Simmons will be available as a deadline rental, at a reasonable price. I also expect that Jose Garcia will by far be the best shortstop in camp and that he will have a big year in Chattanooga.

    Winker needs to break in a first baseman’s mitt, so he can play first against power right-handed pitchers.

  17. Mark Moore

    C. Trent says the deal is done. Nick is a Red.

  18. Scooter

    ESPN reporting Castellanos has signed a multi year deal!!!

  19. docproc

    Mark Sheldon

    It’s a four-year deal for OF Nick Castellanos and the #reds, sources told me. It was @TheAthleticMLB with the first report. Another huge move for Cincinnati this offseason.

  20. Mountaineer Redleg

    he has an opt out after 2 but what a 2 years that will be

    • Bob Purkey

      Looks like an opt-out after 1 year. . . Aquino or Senzel could spend the year at Louisville.