The Cincinnati Reds are reportedly interested in free agent outfielder Nick Castellanos. This was first reported by Jon Morosi of MLB Network/Fox Sports.
#Reds interested in Nicholas Castellanos and Marcell Ozuna as free-agent outfield market begins to take shape. (@dgoold was first to link Ozuna with Cincinnati.) More details here: https://t.co/ByeHgWWRUk @MLB @MLBNetwork
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 14, 2019
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. Nick 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, Nick 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 Nick 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 Nick 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 Nick 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.