The Cincinnati Reds will have outfielder Nick Castellanos back in the fold for the 2021 season. The move was first reported by C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic – though, I guess technically it was a non-move given that Castellanos didn’t inform the Reds he was opting out, which just meant he was sticking around.
In the 2020 season, Castellanos’ first with the Reds in a potential 5-year deal (2020-2024 when there’s a $20M mutual option with a $2M buyout) he started out hot, but slowed down as the season went along. He played in all 60 games with the Reds, but hit just .225/.298/.486. The power showed up as he crushed 14 homers, 11 doubles, and had two triples. He didn’t hit for much average, which also kept his on-base percentage down. His 102 OPS+ was by far the lowest he’s had since 2015 when he was just 23-years-old with the Tigers.
Like many other Reds players, Nick Castellanos was a victim of low BABIP – argue all you want whether it was luck or self inflicted. His BABIP has been between .313 and .361 for his career, and only under .322 once. That is, until the 2020 season. This year his BABIP was a career low .257, well below his career norms.
By not opting out, Nick Castellanos will be a Cincinnati Red for at least the 2021 season. He’ll be owed $14M for the season. Much like this past season, the outfielder will also have the ability to opt out following the year if he so chooses.
If Castellanos chooses to stay after the 2021 season, he will not have the ability to opt out in the future. He’s owed $16M for each of the 2022 and 2023 seasons if he chooses to remain in Cincinnati. As mentioned above, he’s also got a mutual option for the 2024 season at $20M that includes a $2M buyout.
The Reds outfield looks like it’s going to remain a bit crowded for 2021 with Castellanos returning. That will be even more true than it was in 2020 if the National League doesn’t adopt the designated hitter moving forward – as things are, it’s not in play for next year unless the Major League Baseball Players Association and MLB officials come to an agreement to bring it back. Without a DH option, David Bell is going to have to be even more creative than he was in 2020 in finding ways to get playing time for Castellanos, Nick Senzel, Jesse Winker, and Shogo Akiyama.