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.

46 Responses

  1. Mark Moore

    No surprise given multiple market factors. Happy to have that decision in the bag. Now we move forward into the “hurry up and wait” phase of the off season.

    Oh, and we shall soon see if Trevor gets his much deserved Cy Young hardware.

  2. west larry

    This is probably a crazy thought. Assuming Votto is owed 75 over the remainder of his contract, what if we offered him 3 million a year for 25 years to complete his buyout. Could we then waive all rights to him, and allow him to sign with the Marlins or Rays for whatever contract they agree to? Then we could offer Bauer a competitive contract, and move Moukacas (spelling) to first, and Stezel to second? That’s assuming Votto would agree to this. And if he didn’t want to play any longer, ESPN would offer him a job to take up some of his free time. Say it’s so, Joe.

    • west larry

      I know it,s not on point. I apolligize.

      • MK

        Not on point but I would like to see that accomplished, but I doubt he would do it unless you sweetened the pot a little. Would you wait 25 years for $75 million when it could be 3byears But you might wait for 10 years for $100 million.

    • west larry

      hell, I’d give him the hundred million over ten years…but it ain’t my money.

    • Greenfield Red

      I keep thinking about and rethinking about our Votto experience at Spring Training in 2013. We arrived early for a game to walk around the complex. Votto was taking ground balls on an infield only field (full size infield, no outfield, with a fence). He was the only player on the field with 3 or 4 coaches. My wife, son (8 at the time), and I saw the action and watched for about 30 minutes. Over the course of that time about 7 or 8 others small groups similar to ours (3 to 4 people with at least 1 or 2 young kids in each group). In total about 25 to 30 (half small kids) people standing around the fence.

      At no point did JV so much as look at the kids, acknowledge them, tip his hat… nothing. He finished his practice and walked out a staff only gate that took him into a staff only area. He could have gone so far as to sign a ball for each kid (there were 2 buckets of balls there), or at least given each of them a ball, or at the very least said “thanks for coming out, I don’t have time to sign today”. But instead he chose to put his head down and slink away.

      My wife can’t stand him for his action… or lack of action. My son is a great kid, but is just another 13 year old with no use for baseball. I guess baseball has so many young fans that the biggest names in the game can freely alienate them with no worry of the future of the game…at least that’s JV’s view of it.

      • VaRedsFan

        I understand your frustration, athletes need to show some appreciation for the fans…especially the young ones. But…you don’t always know the situation that player is in on that particular day. So wasn’t 2013 the year after his knee injury? After a long workout, maybe he needed treatment immediately after. May he aggravated the injury. There are many other factors that could be in play. I wouldn’t judge someone based on one encounter.

      • Greenfield Red

        I get it RedsVAFan. But, he could have waved or something. These were little kids, and he was aloof (sp?). He has that reputation, and I don’t know if it is warranted or not, but on that day, it was. A real turn off.

      • MrsJDV

        He was at work. Do you get up and wave at everyone who walks by at your job? He’s trying to earn the money everyone complains he’s not worth. I’ve been at Spring Training and you just don’t talk to the players. Let them get ready. He’s a very nice man who loves the fans.

      • Greenfield Red

        Baseball is entertainment. Entertainment is people business. I didn’t suggest he talk to everyone. I suggested that he at least acknowledge the kids who were his fans who had gathered around the fence with a wave or tip of his hat. He could have gone so far as to say hello or sign some balls, but he didn’t even look at them which should have been the minimum. I didn’t mention the money, but since you did, for 25 million a year, it’s even more ridiculous.

        Most of us don’t have fans where we work, myself included. I still take 2 seconds to say hello to people I see when I’m at work. Heck, even the trash man will wave to me as I come out to pick up my can on Monday morning.

  3. Jimbo44CN

    Of course he stays. In the current climate doubt he would get more than that. I kind of like him, but he’s below average defensively and offensively as well. We need defenese, speed and hitting for average. Period, not an occasional home followed by lots of outs.

    • Doug Gray

      Yeah, the only way he was going to leave is if he absolutely, unequivocally hated Cincinnati to the point that whatever the issue was would be unrepairable. There was never any indication it was that…. too much money to leave on the table, especially when he has the opt out after 2021 and can reassess the situation then and see if the market it any better, and he can put together a stronger season.

    • Doc

      He wasn’t particularly below this team’s average in 2020 offensively, and many of them stunk it up defensively.

  4. DataDumpster

    Add Nick to the “well, we’re stuck with him” column. His fall was stunning after his early season red hot streak. Only a complete debacle (like Winker) topped this (non)performance… With my opinion that Shogo deserves to be an everyday player, that leaves 4 other outfielders to juggle for one spot (we still have Aquino and Goodwin, right?). Hopefully, Nick Krall can find some trade value in any of those players for a decent shortstop and/or someone who realizes that baseball is about more than hitting home runs.
    I still wonder about the big picture of how virtually all of the hitters seriously underperformed, our two best hitters encountered long lasting deep slumps, most of our new players acquired were primarily of the 3 true outcomes ilk (which ESPN reported the Reds led the majors in), and almost all the playing time given to the younger players revealed a farm system that was either poorly coached or lacking in talent.

    If David Bell is not taking this franchise down the drain, I fail to find any other logical explanation. That being said, I have no insight whatsoever as to how the Williams exit affects Bell’s position. He’s coming back but is he stronger or on a shorter leash if the team stays on the losing end? Any opinions on this, maybe Freddy B. has the capability to fire the team up in another direction if given a mid season stint.

    • Melvin

      I have no idea about Williams leaving as to what really happened. Maybe just like he said. I can, however, see a scenario where he wanted to fire Bell and wasn’t allowed to. Being in a no win situation in his mind may have lead to his leaving. As I’ve said many times it’s mind boggling to me how they can leave Bell as manager so who knows about the leash he is on. Honestly I don’t know much about Freddy B. but my gut feeling, for whatever it’s worth, tells me he’s not the right guy for the Reds. If they are really “all in” in ’21 then IMO mid season is not the best time of course to change managers. NOW is the time. The loyalty they have for Bell, with everything on the line, well……..just SMH.

  5. CI3J

    If there is no DH next season, how viable would it be to try Winker at 1B? He seems to have the classic 1B qualities, tall, lefthanded, slow, and his offense would definitely play at that position.

    The Reds need to start looking at life after Votto. Winker manning 1B for the next decade seems like a pretty decent future to look forward to.

    • Sliotar

      Not very viable … if viable at all.

      Votto had a wRC+ 114 .. well above league average, 4th best among Reds regulars.

      16.6% BB rate … best on the team.

      For a team that lives off HRs and walks …

  6. docproc

    Castellanos is a streaky, free-swinging hitter who can bag 40 doubles and 30 HRs in his sleep playing half his games in GABP.
    The key is moving him and his low OBP out of the top of the lineup. Bat him 5th and he’ll be an asset rather than a liability.

    • Sliotar


      Good call.

      A case could be made to put the best BB% guys, Winker/Akiyama/Votto, or Senzel (if he can improve on BB%) … put them 1-2-3 and put Suarez/Castellanos/Moustakas 4-5-6.

      The Reds put the ball into play so little, should try and have walks set up the heart of the order for the 2 or 3-run HR, imo.

      • Mark Moore

        Ah … the old Moneyball base clogging approach. Frankly, we could do worse than that. Can’t get ’em in if you can’t get ’em on.

      • docproc

        My way-early pref for batting order:
        Winker (hope we have DH)
        SS (TBD)
        C (Stephenson, please)

  7. DataDumpster

    Interesting comments about batting order but I can’t decide on the best approach. My inkling is find one that seems to work best based upon last year’s numbers and stick with it! There was enough experimentation and shifting last year that I would venture that there were more batting orders used than actual games. To what end I don’t know but the data should be there. Players need consistency and predictability instead of players not knowing if they will start the game, finish the game, or what slot they will hit in most of the time.

    I hope David Bell watched the Dodgers and Braves among others to realize there is another way. Players are not backgammon pieces for crying out loud.

    • Jimbo44CN

      Yes Please! How is someone like Aquino supposed to feel. Bring him up, send him down, ride the bench. Back up, back down. They need consistency in some form, not constant change.

  8. TR

    If the DH is a fact of life in the NL, Castellanos could look good in that role batting lower in the order where the homerun would be welcome after hitters in the top of the lineup get on base.

    • VaRedsFan

      I thought I read that the DH is not in the plans next year, and will have to be collectively bargained.
      However, if COVID is still an issue next year, that might change

      • TR

        I like the DH. For me, baseball has become a rather boring game except for the first and last couple innings. Complete pitched games ( Jim Maloney, Bob Gibson, Robin Roberts, Don Newcombe) have all but disappeared. Plus analytical focused managers who aren’t able to let their pitchers, who are getting it done, face the lineup for a third round, often leads me to regard my favorite sport in passing.

  9. VaRedsFan

    I am not a luck/BABIP guy……But, as the eye test goes, it seemed like Nick hit into some horrible luck last year (.257 BABIP, as Doug mentioned). He hit so many hard hit balls that were caught. I like his approach of using the whole field. The down and away slider is his weakness.

    • docproc

      He used the whole field a lot more early on than he did late in the season. The entire team could use a refresher course on hitting outside pitches the opposite way. Shogo figured it out, but nobody else seemed to.

  10. Kevin Patrick

    Castellanos will continue to be an asset to the Reds. Part of me wonders whether the relative equal quality of play in our outfield last year created more pressure than competitive drive to excellence. We always say, “it never hurts to have too many good players”… but I honestly wonder whether that is always true. This sight looks at numbers as it should… and I don’t want to always be that guy who undermines the reasonable conclusions of data, but I think we got less from all our outfielders than I expected. Why? If the Reds continue with the regular substitution of outfielders based on data, its hard to imagine all personality types adjusting. I suppose if all those guys get used to it, it will be ok. Whatever they commit to doing, they should stick with it. I wonder if the strategy of regular substitution would have been more successful over the course of 162 or even a few years of ball than just the shortened season last year.

  11. Tom Mitsoff

    A bit off-topic … What if Dick Williams stepped down because he knew what was coming: a salary purge that would decimate whatever was achieved through the five-year rebuild?

    I’ve seen opinions that the majority of teams will be in salary-purge mode. I could understand if Castellini’s mindset was not to spend big on the free agent market, or even at all. But if this starts to turn into a purge of talent through non-tenders and trades of established players for next to nothing, I can’t begin to express how angry I will be.

    I will monitor Twitter and the various other baseball news sources to see whether or not the Reds make the qualifying offer to Bauer. If not, we all had better buckle up.

    • Mark Moore

      Interesting thought, especially in the pre-cursor year to the new CBA. MLBPA has always charged “collusion” in some way, shape, or form. I’d have to think a salary purge by more than just a couple of teams would add jet fuel to that always smoldering fire. Hard to contain that kind of a blaze if it happens.

      And who will suffer yet again? We fans for one. Minor leaguers and MLB minimum guys for another.

  12. Mark Moore

    A little earlier today, the O’s picked up Jose Iggy’s option, so he’s not an option for us to bridge the gap. What’s done is done …

    • Jimbo44CN

      They would have been crazy not to. That was one of the biggest errors by the GM in 2019, letting him go. Nobody would have been better at working with Garcia.

      • TR

        Not keeping Jose Iglesias, a smooth fielding thirty year old shortstop, as the mentor for young Jose Garcia still makes no sense to me.

      • VaRedsFan

        They didn’t let him go, he was a free agent.

      • Jimbo44CN

        Free agent yes, but they did not even try to resign him. Big mistake.

  13. Mark Moore

    I’m a convert on the DH. I also think it will come back for 2021 and certain it will end up in the new CBA. For us, I say it gives us a better place to hide an aging Joey Votto that helps him stay productive anyway. That alone moves Moose to 1B which I also see as better.

    IDK – still a lot of questions for 2021, not the least of which is how many games get played anyway.

  14. Ryan

    maybe someday all the threads on here won’t turn into Votto-bashing – I remember the same thing happening with Larkin years ago and Reds fans unfortunately don’t seem to appreciate when they have an all-time great in the fold until they act like they love them after they’re gone and then years later will talk about how great they were.