When the Cincinnati Reds signed outfielder Nick Castellanos to a 4-year deal in the offseason, most expected the deal to wind up being a 1-year deal. The expectation was that Castellanos, coming off of a big year, would come to Great American Ballpark and put up big numbers and then opt out after the 2020 season and get a better deal than the 3-years that he had remaining on his Reds deal.
Things didn’t exactly go that way. The season was cut short for everyone. No fans were allowed to attend games, and more than a few teams publicly stated they were going to lose money hand over fist this year as a result (this can be debated all day as to how true it actually is). With that, there’s a lot of uncertainty about the free agent market this offseason. No one expects there to be big spending, but even if there were – in the short season, Nick Castellanos didn’t exactly live up to the “puts up huge numbers in Great American Ballpark” scenario. He hit .225/.298/.486 on the season, playing in all 60 games. The home runs were there, but he posted the lowest average and on-base percentage of his career. His slugging percentage was the lowest he’d had since 2015. His OPS+ of 102 was also the worst he has had in a season since 2015.
Even if Nick Castellanos had gone out and tore up the National League this year in 60 games, there would be some questions if he could do better than the three years and $48,000,000 he still had on his deal with the Reds (this includes a $2M buyout in 2024 on a $20M mutual option). What works in the favor of Castellanos is that he also has an opt out after the 2021 season, too. So he gets a bit of a “do over” at the National League and Great American Ballpark.
On Friday afternoon, President of Baseball Operations Dick Williams was asked how he felt about Nick Castellanos returning.
“I expect him to be back based on the conversations I’ve had with him,” said Williams. “I think he really likes it here. I think he really liked his teammates. I think he feels like there’s unfinished business. My impression was that he intends to come back, but I didn’t ask him and he didn’t offer that specific, just the way our conversations went.”
Everything seems to point towards a reasonable expectation to see Nick Castellanos roaming the outfield at Great American Ballpark in 2021 in a Cincinnati Reds jersey. The date that Castellanos has to opt out isn’t known, but it’s usually 3-5 days after the final day of the World Series. If he were to opt out, the Reds could extend a qualifying offer to him if they wanted to.