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The Red Report 2020 - Nick Castellanos

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Nick Castellanos is a baseball mercenary.

Cincinnati Reds Photo Day Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Fast Facts

  • Born March 4, 1992 in Davie, Florida
  • Attended Archbishop McCarthy High School in Southwest Ranches, Florida
  • Debuted September 1, 2013 with the Tigers.
  • Exceeded rookie limit in 2014.
  • Bat flips like a boss.

Organizational History

  • Drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 1st round (44th overall) of the 2010 draft.
  • Traded by the Detroit Tigers with cash to the Chicago Cubs for Alex Lange and Paul Richan.
  • Signed with the Cincinnati Reds on January 27, 2020.

Career Stats

Scouting Report

Fangraphs
Fangraphs

Nick Gif-y

Projections

Outlook

In a lot of ways, Nick Castellanos is a hired gun. A baseball mercenary, if you will.

He’s entirely too young and entirely too good to settle for the true contract kill (though a former perpetual one-year contract guy and new teammate of his may have something to say about that). Still, saying that the Reds signed Castellanos for four years and $64 million leaves out quite a bit of the nuance of the deal, along with the part where he potentially comes a solider of fortune.

The Reds needed offense in a big way last season. After spending the offseason before the 2019 regular season #GettingThePitching (which they got), the Reds offense slumped in a big way in 2019, finishing 25th in all of MLB in OPS+, a year after finishing nearly league average in the stat.

So, the objective for the front office going into 2020 was simple: #GetTheHitting. They started the process early, signing slugging infielder Mike Moustakas to a franchise record free agent deal of four years, $64 million (which sounds familiar but certainly is not). It was, for a long time, the biggest offensive move they made throughout the offseason.

Luckily, the offseason doesn’t end in December. After signing Japanese star outfielder Shogo Akiyama early in January, and seemingly with a fairly set outfield, the Reds went out and handed Castellanos another $64 million at the end of the month.

Well, kind of.

Nick Castellanos, the 27 (28 next month) year old outfielder, and his agent Scott Boras, managed to work two opt out clauses into his deal with the Reds. He has the opportunity to reach free agency again after this coming season, and one more time after the 2021, before he’d be locked into the final two years of his deal at $16 million apiece. There’s also a mutual option for a fifth year.

That’s what makes his first year with the Reds so mercenary-like. The Reds can and probably will go a long way this season if Castellanos can come in and mash like he has and can, and he also may not have peaked yet. Him putting up gawdy numbers is certainly going to help the Reds compete (or more) in the 2020 season. And, if that happens, he’s likely gone (or, at least, the Reds will need to sign him again, and for more).

It has the potential to be a very mutually beneficial deal for the two parties, albeit one where the Reds are assuming all of the risk. If Castellanos breaks his leg this season, or otherwise suffers some awful, debilitating injury, the Reds are pretty much on the hook for 64 million hollow dollars.

Still, nothing like that can be predicted nor baked into these types of things. The Reds entered this offseason with money to spend and a willingness to compete, and so far, they’re putting their real money where their proverbial mouth is.

Oh, and it’s worth mentioning (and probably lede burying) that Nick Castellanos can really hit! Over his last four season, Castellanos has hit .286/.336/.504 in 2454 plate appearances, with 94 HR and 165 doubles. In fact, his 58 doubles in 2019 led Major League Baseball (he did it over both leagues). After being traded to the Cubs last season, Castellanos kicked it into a different gear, hitting .321/.356/.646 in his final 225 PA of the season with Chicago.

I mean, just look at this shit.

Sure, Castellanos can’t play all 162 games in Great American Ballpark. Okay, I get it. He probably won’t hit 70 home runs.

There certainly could’ve been some “contract year” magic in the works here. But, that’s something that I guess makes his contract status with the Reds worth noting: he’s going into a “contract year” potentially after each of the next two seasons. There’s a little bit of relaxation to be had here, but not a lot. Our dude hits like he hit with the Cubs over the last couple of months of 2019, and he’s in for an even bigger payday than he cashed in 2020.

Yes, there’s the defense question. Nick Castellanos is generally regarded as anywhere from bad to terrible on defense. And, considering there are several of his teammates that may also share that distinction (like, say, Jesse Winker), it’s not not a concern for the Reds.

To that I say: meh. I mean, it’s certainly something that the Reds have to figure out, especially considering he’s going to be sharing an outfield more often than not with a guy who may rate even poorer at the metric. But still, with advantageous defensive alignment on the rise, I expect the team to put these guys in the correct position to make plays more often than not. Plus, both Castellanos and Winker are still young enough to actually get better at this part of the game. We’re not talking about Matt Kemp’s 2019 corpse standing out there.

The Reds front office identified what they needed, and they went out and got it. It was offense, and in Castellanos’s case, they made the concessions they felt they needed to make to make the jump. If it works out, he may be here for a shorter time than we expected.