The Cincinnati Reds have been persistently connected to bringing in a potent outfield bat all winter long, with both Marcell Ozuna and Nick Castellanos being heavily linked. Even after the signing of Shogo Akiyama that connection popped up in news, and once Ozuna agreed to sign with the Atlanta Braves, it became pretty evident that the Reds had zeroed in on Castellanos as their next big get.
Last night, we heard the Reds were ‘clear frontrunners’ to sign the former Tiger and Cub. Today, that’s much more concrete, as the Reds and Castellanos have reportedly agreed to a 4-year, $64 million contract, according to C. Trent Rosecrans and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
Just 27 years old (and some 8 months younger than Eugenio Suarez, for reference), Castellanos was the rare kind of free agent to hit the market roughly at his peak, and not yet over it. That’s the kind of position that usually comes backed with a pile of bargaining power, and while Castellanos ultimately did not land a nine-figure deal after leading all of baseball with 58 doubles in 2019, he and agent Scott Boras did use that leverage to slide a pretty important clause into this ‘4-year’ deal, as ESPN’s Jeff Passan noted.
The opt-out in Nicholas Castellanos' four-year, $64 million deal with the Cincinnati Reds is after the first season, sources tell ESPN.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 27, 2020
That opt-out effectively makes this deal both a potential pillow contract (meaning Castellanos can rake in 2020, opt out, and re-enter free agency in search of a more lucrative deal) while also perhaps still guaranteeing him life-changing money. In fact, it’s been reported that he has another opt-out after the 2021 season as well, doubling that opportunity. That’s certainly a win for Boras, but for the Reds it also perhaps affords them the ability to benefit from Nick’s potent offense in a vital 2020 season while also still leaving the door open for some of their current in-house players to emerge at a more gradual pace.
Whether it’s for good or just for now, the Reds will be adding a potent corner OF bat to their already crowded mix out there. Castellanos has hit .294/.346/.513 in 1342 PA over his last two seasons, with an absurd 162 extra-base hits in that time. Add that to what the Reds have picked up in Mike Moustakas and Shogo Akiyama, and this offseason’s priority of bringing in significant offensive upgrades appears to be well on course.