The Cincinnati Reds have been determined to augment their offense this winter, and have already made a number of waves in attempting to do so. Mike Moustakas is on-board with a team record $64 million contract, and Shogo Akiyama was inked for a trio of years to bolster the outfield corps.
It would certainly appear the Reds aren’t yet done, either. On Sunday, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reported that the Reds aren’t just still interested in free agent OF Nick Castellanos, they’re the ‘clear frontrunner’ to land him - and maybe soon.
Castellanos, who’ll only just be 28 in this 2020 season, posted an impressive .863 OPS (121 OPS+) in a 2019 season split between Detroit and Chicago, an offensive output that included a league-best 58 doubles on the season. And while his defense has long been considered questionable (at best), that’s exactly the kind of offensive boost that could continue to lift the Reds out of the bottom-tier where they resided last season.
The question, of course, is how the ripple effects of such a signing would play out. It’s something we attempted to address on Friday back when the Reds and Castellanos were only a mere rumor, as there are numerous different ways things could go if he were to actually sign.
Obviously, the likes of Shogo, Jesse Winker, Nick Senzel, Aristides Aquino, and Phil Ervin are already around as OF options, and adding Castellanos to that mix would only muddy further that mix. Each of Winker and Senzel, though, saw their 2019 seasons end prematurely due to injury, and neither have been able to be counted on as full-time, healthy players to date. Aquino’s up and down career is well known, too, meaning counting on his upside alone to come through is a bit of a risky endeavor, while Shogo’s transition to MLB play is also very much an unknown, too.
Perhaps there’s a trade in the works. Perhaps Senzel will get a chance to try shortstop again, something that was briefly the plan just two short years ago. Perhaps it’s as simple as spending money the Reds have readily available, doing so while knowing that each of Winker, Senzel, and Aquino have minor league options remaining, even if that doesn’t sound ideal for their long term development. Regardless, this is a clear sign that the Reds are still hellbent on getting better immediately, and are willing to pursue all their options to ensure that happens.