The Cincinnati Reds went out this offseason and made a big splash. Then another one. Then they went out and made a few smaller splashes. In total, they brought in free agents Mike Moustakas, Wade Miley, Pedro Strop, and the subject of today’s article – Nick Castellanos. A team that has approached free agency like it had cooties, the Reds finally decided to try and utilize all of the ways available to them in order to improve their team and hit free agency with Redszilla shooting piles of cash at players.
One of the bigger bats on the market, Nick Castellanos was coming off of a season where he hit .289/.337/.525 between Detroit and Chicago – but it was his time with the Cubs that really showed what he was capable of. After joining the Cubs and getting out of Comerica he hit .321/.356/.646. His 21 doubles and 16 home runs in just 51 games showed off the big power he had, and those 21 doubles combined with the 37 he had already hit in Detroit gave him a Major League best 58 on the season.
Those numbers gave the Reds confidence in offering him a four year deal worth $64,000,000. The contract, however, isn’t spread out evenly when it comes to money, and there are two different option years involved, too. In 2020 he’s under contract for $16,000,000 and there’s an opt-out following the year. In 2021 he’s under contract for $14,000,000 and he has a second option year. Then in both 2022 and 2023 he’s under contract for $16,000,000. There’s also a potential fifth year at $20,000,000 for 2024 that is a mutual option year and contains a $2,000,000 buyout.
When the deal was first announced there were more than a few who felt that this deal was eventually going to turn into a 1-year contract. The reasoning was quite simple: Put Nick Castellanos in Great American Ballpark for a season at age 28 and he’s going to rake. And if and when he does, he’s going to opt out following the season and try to cash in even more in free agency.
But then the world was set on fire with COVID-19 and we are in a spot where the future, both for the 2020 baseball season and for our own lives, is very uncertain. Last week the Major League Baseball Players Association and Major League Baseball came to an agreement on many things for the 2020 season, whether it’s even played or not.
However, even if the season is played in some manner during 2020, things are going to be a lot different now. And that isn’t just about if they will be playing baseball in front of fans in the crowd or if the stadiums will be empty until we have a way to treat this virus in a way that makes large gatherings an acceptable thing to once again allow.
But when it comes to the Cincinnati Reds and Nick Castellanos, this situation may very well mean that he’s going to be sticking around beyond 2020. The season, even if it happens, is going to bring in less revenue for the teams. If they aren’t allowed to have fans in the stands, that’s going to cut off tens of millions of dollars from every team in baseball.
What that likely means is that teams aren’t exactly going to be heading into free agency this winter all that willing to spend boatloads of money. On top of the fact that they lost a lot of expected revenue in 2020, the likelihood of a more depressed economy moving into 2021 and a possible uncertainty about what they can expect fans to do in the next season as they may have to cut off some expenses of their own. The uncertainty in all aspects probably just leaves teams being very careful with the kinds of deals they are handing out.
If you are Nick Castellanos, are you going to turn down a 1-year deal for $14,000,000 for next season, that will also include another guaranteed $34,000,000 beyond that if you want, to try and cash in facing that sort of situation? Or are you going to return to Cincinnati with a lot of money on the table and see what happens all while knowing you can opt out after the 2021 season if things look a lot better in the market? It seems like a rather easy decision right now, doesn’t it?