The Cincinnati Reds remain interested in free agent outfielder Nick 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 Nick 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 Nick 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 Nick 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.