Nick Castellanos has done what most people expected him to do and has opted out of his contract with the Cincinnati Reds. Jon Heyman of MLB Network was the first to report this. He will now be a free agent. The Cincinnati Reds can make him a qualifying offer of $18,400,000 for the 2022 season. If he turns it down, which he almost certainly will, it will eventually net the Reds a draft pick in the summer (unless he re-signs with the Reds). What kind of pick they will get will depend on the total amount of money that Castellanos signs for.
After a quick start to his Reds career in 2020 he struggle a bit in a weird, shortened season. But in 2021 he rebounded and was everything that both he and the Reds seemed to expect when he signed his contract. The outfielder played in 138 games and hit .309/.362/.576 with 38 doubles, a triple, and 34 home runs while scoring 95 runs, driving in 100, and being named a National League All-Star.
Nick Castellanos is leaving two years and $34,000,000 on the table with the Reds. He, probably correctly, believes he can get a better deal than that. Whether or not he can get more money per year may be in question, but he should easily be able to lock up more years at a value per year at least similar to what he’s got now, earning him more in the long run and guaranteeing more on his deal.
As for the Reds, it seems likely that they will make the qualifying offer and at least talk to him about re-signing. How serious it gets with a new deal, feel free to make your own guesses – but when the team’s statement after trading away a player in Tucker Barnhart could have been that they loved what he had done for the organization but they felt it was time to open up the spot for Tyler Stephenson. Instead they put out a statement that talked about how the organization needed to align their payroll to their resources.
If Castellanos doesn’t re-sign, it will leave Cincinnati with a very big spot in the lineup to fill. How they go about that, or where they would look – it’s still way too early to tell. The internal options may include finding more time for Tyler Naquin, Max Schrock, Nick Senzel, or Aristides Aquino. Trades or free agency could also be an option.