Stop us if you’ve heard this before: a Scott Boras client is the last high-profile name left in free agency. At this point it’s practically a time-honored tradition for the Boras Corporation to have the last big name standing in free agency. It doesn’t always work in the player’s favor, but even many of those who’ve settled for lesser deals — think Mike Moustakas, Dallas Keuchel and, a few years back, Kendrys Morales — have eventually gone on to cash in on sizable multi-year pacts in future offseasons.
Enter Nicholas Castellanos. Heading into free agency, he was a hotly discussed name due to his youth — he’ll turn 28 in March — and the Ruthian finish he had to the 2019 season. Upon being traded to the Cubs, Castellanos erupted with a .321/.356/.646 slash, 16 homers and 21 doubles in just 51 games (225 plate appearances). He connected on an extra-base hit (16.4 percent) nearly as often as he struck out (20.8 percent). Reactionary takes suggesting that he’d punched his ticket to a nine-figure payday never seemed particularly grounded in reality, but a hefty multi-year deal certainly looked (and arguably still looks) likely.
The longstanding question with Castellanos has been his glovework. Were he even an average defender, even in a corner spot, the $100MM+ some speculated following his Cubs bonanza might’ve been conceivable. But Castellanos came up as a third baseman, moved to right field due to defensive deficiencies and has yet to master his new position. He’s improved, in the eyes of most metrics, going from -19 DRS in 2018 to -9 in 2019, -12.9 UZR to -4.4 and -24 OAA to -7. It’s a step in the right direction, but the consensus remains that he’s a questionable defender.
If he’s able to make similar strides in 2020, that perception might change, and it’s worth noting that Castellanos’ problem lies more in poor jumps than his speed, which is above-average, per Statcast. However, Castellanos and Boras are looking for long-term commitments right now, and signing a shorter-term deal would run the risk of his glovework backing up (or of incurring an injury, declining at the plate, etc.). Betting on himself could prove particularly lucrative, given his age, but that’s not a risk that most players would prefer to take — or feel they should have to take coming off a run at the plate as productive as that of Castellanos.
Over the past four seasons, Castellanos is a .286/.336/.504 hitter (120 OPS+, 121 wRC+), and he’s been even better over the past two campaigns (124 OPS+, 126 wRC+). Castellanos isn’t an especially prodigious home run hitter, but his 104 doubles over the past two seasons are seven more than the next-highest mark in the game. Castellanos has still gone deep 50 times in that stretch — including that 16-homer surge in Chicago. (It’s worth pointing out that he’s been a more productive hitter at Detroit’s Comerica Park than on the road, so the ballpark switch probably wasn’t the primary factor.) He might not be in former teammate J.D. Martinez’s territory as far as overall offensive output goes, but Castellanos has been one of baseball’s 30 best hitters since 2018.
Perhaps a sign of the times, Castellanos is looking for a long-term deal in the same offseason that his primary market competitor, Marcell Ozuna, took a one-year deal with the Braves. It’s become tougher and tougher for corner bats to land sizable contracts in recent years — particularly if they’re not considered standout defenders. Ozuna landing in Atlanta removed one potential landing spot for Castellanos, and another dried up earlier this winter when the White Sox filled up their lineup by adding both Nomar Mazara and Edwin Encarnacion.
So where can Castellanos look to find work? Let’s run through some of the best remaining fits…
- Rangers: Texas could call its outfield full, citing a left-to-right trio of Willie Calhoun, Danny Santana and Joey Gallo. But Gallo surprisingly proved capable of handling center in 2019, and Santana has traditionally struggled there anyhow. The Rangers could shift Santana to a bench role and play Gallo in center to accommodate Castellanos in right. Alternatively, they’ve reportedly discussed signing Castellanos to play first base (an indictment on his defense in and of itself). President of baseball ops Jon Daniels is clearly in win-now mode as the Rangers move into a new ballpark, and adding Castellanos would cap off an aggressive winter in fashion.
- Indians: Cleveland has shredded its payroll to the point that they’re now projected to have a sub-$100MM payroll and their lowest mark since 2015. They could be looking at their final year with Francisco Lindor in the mix, as owner Paul Dolan has previously signaled that he’s not willing to spend at the level it’d take to lock the superstar shortstop up long-term. The Indians only have $23MM on the books in 2021, and their current corner outfielders will consist of a combination of Jake Bauers, Greg Allen, Delino DeShields Jr., Jordan Luplow, Tyler Naquin, Franmil Reyes (who’ll spend time at DH as well) and Bradley Zimmer. Adding Castellanos would put a better spin on an offseason in which the club parted with Corey Kluber and added Cesar Hernandez and Emmanuel Clase. Then again, Cleveland was also mostly idle last winter even as the Twins made some aggressive moves, and now both Minnesota and the White Sox have significantly ramped up their efforts to win.
- Reds: No one will accuse the Reds of idleness over the past year and a half. They don’t have a clear outfield opening, with newly signed Shogo Akiyama joining Nick Senzel, Jesse Winker and Aristides Aquino in the outfield mix (and several other options on the 40-man roster, including Phil Ervin, Travis Jankowski, Scott Schebler and Jose Siri). But while Aquino exploded with 14 homers in his first 29 MLB games, he followed that up with a catastrophic .196/.236/.382 slash in his second month in the big leagues. He could be optioned to Triple-A, but even then, adding Castellanos wouldn’t leave much room for Winker and his career .285/.379/.466 batting line in the Majors. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman tweeted this week that the Reds are “still a player” for Castellanos, adding that they made a “spirited” pursuit of Ozuna. But it’s not clear when in the offseason they made their peak offer to Ozuna, and at this point it seems likely that Cincinnati would need to make a trade to accommodate Castellanos. Perhaps that’s just what the organization has in mind if it is able to reach agreement.
- Cardinals: The Cardinals, admittedly, are more of an on-paper fit than anything else. Owner Bill DeWitt Jr. publicly indicated recently that an additional splash or further increase in the team’s payroll isn’t likely. Still, the Cards lost Ozuna and now look like they’ll rely on Tyler O’Neill and Lane Thomas in left. It’s possible that one or both (or top prospect Dylan Carlson, who also looms in the upper minors) could emerge as a quality big league contributor, but the currently constructed version of the Cardinals’ lineup will carry its share of questions entering the season. For a club intent on defending a division title, that’s not ideal.
- Cubs: The Cubs are said to have loved Castellanos in his short time there — how could you not love that type of production? — but ownership has been steadfast in its reluctance to add to the MLB payroll this winter. The Cubs, stunningly, haven’t signed a single free agent to a guaranteed big league salary. They’re awaiting the resolution of Kris Bryant’s service time grievance, and many expect them to shop the former MVP once that happens. Perhaps they’ll just happily take the extra payroll space if they’re able to find a deal, but the temptation to sign Castellanos to a backloaded contract would be strong; the Cubs will have Jon Lester, Tyler Chatwood, Jose Quintana and Daniel Descalso all off the books next year. Perhaps Castellanos will already have signed by that point, but if he’s still out there and the Cubs find a way to shed some payroll, a reunion becomes more likely.
- Giants: San Francisco was reported to be interested in Castellanos earlier this winter, and there isn’t exactly anyone standing in the way of Castellanos. Mike Yastrzemski and Alex Dickerson project as the primary corner outfielders, but both are more than a year older than Castellanos despite their lack of MLB experience. The only year that Yastrzemski has shown any type of sustained power was in 2019’s juiced ball environment, and Dickerson has totaled all of 101 games between the Majors and Triple-A over the past three seasons. The Giants are rebuilding, but Castellanos wouldn’t cost a draft pick, block significant prospects, or put them near the luxury threshold. At the very least, if he winds up settling on a one-year deal, the Giants could do worse than trying to flip him in July or collecting a pick by issuing a QO at season’s end. However, a multi-year deal for a player still in his prime is sensible so long as the team isn’t in all-out tank mode (which doesn’t seem to be the case based on other offseason moves).
Could be a conspiracy but perhaps he’s still a FA because he has an agreement w the Cubs once the Bryant crap is sorted out
No player wants to be second fiddle. They take care of themselves first and foremost. Conspiracy
When the agents are the same, who says it’s the player driving the boat
don’t be so naive
Not a conspiracy at all to say Boras would love to have another bidder. But we all thought Donaldson was in the bag for Atlanta because he “wanted to stay.” if Boras gets the deal he wants, Castellanos would sign today.
No one thought he was in the bag for Atlanta
If anything, anyone with a brain realizes atl wasn’t in his price range and that was why he waited so long. If they were close, he’d have signed
You couldn’t be more wrong….
I haven’t been following things in Chicago Anthony but I’ve said the same thing with the Red Sox and Brock Holt.
That’s what I have been thinking too
That is just silly
Doesn’t look like there’s an obvious match for a big AAV multi=year contract. Doesn’t mean the man won’t get paid, but it’s hard to see a bidding war erupting.
at the projected price, I wasn’t thrilled about the possible signing. but the longer this goes, the more likely the Giants are to get him at far below market estimates.
Nah, with the Reds and Rangers in on him too (and the Cubs if they move KB in time) there’s not gonna be much of a discount.
GIANTS: And let him play first base, either by dealing Belt or platooning them so Castellanos only plays half his games in LF.
The Giants. Lol
It’s amazing how much things can change in a half-season. At the trade deadline last year, Castellanos was (at least being touted as) one of the most coveted trade pieces out there. After a pretty decent half season, now it’s “I wonder if he can score a decent contract” time.
Pretty decent half season lol
Quit stressing me out, and just tell me the Rangers sign him already!
I guarantee what happens is Castellanos signs with someone like the Rangers and within 30 minutes of that announcement the Kris Bryant Grievance gets settled. Just as Atlanta and Minnesota and Texas and yada, yada, yada are all out of the market for someone like KB.
This Grievance process is staggeringly ridiculous. Nick to Cubs would otherwise be perfect. The offense would more than make up for any defensive deficiencies.
The Cubs could have and should have been making moves prior to this anyway. It seems a foregone conclusion that they’re parting ways with Bryant; the grievance just determines his trade value. They could part with Rizzo or Schwarber to restock the farm, trade Darvish as a rebound candidate (either now or hold him for half a season and hope he actually does rebound), package Heyward with someone good on a rookie deal, etc. They’ve had options, they even have money to sign people despite what they claim. It’s a joke that they’re waiting for this ruling when Bryant seems unlikely to be with the club on Opening Day anyway.
The Cubs may want to move those large contracts, but there is no demand. No GM is going to take on Darvish until he proves he’s healthy. Schwarber has less value than Castellanos, but the Cubs value him highly. Hayward will need his contract paid down to get even moderate value back. Two years of Bryant will bring back significantly more than one year, so it’s worth waiting. He’s the only player the Cubs are willing to move who has any value.
Darvish? Did you watch last year? His second half he was top 5 pitcher in baseball. And his contract is now ridiculously friendly at $21 mil a year when compared to what the free agent pitchers are getting.
Cubs could get a fortune for him. However A) he has a no trade clause and B) why would they? They barely have any pitching so he’s far too valuable.
Right now they’d get the most in a trade in order from Baez, Bryant, Darvish, Contreras and Rizzo.
They ain’t trading Baez. And Bryant’s leaving in 2 years anyway so he makes the most sense. And he can be replaced. Darvish can’t.
Stymee you do not watch much baseball? Darvish was healthy last year
The kind of ridiculous the Cubs deserve for manipulating KBs service time. Not fun to be manipulated is it?
Like the White Sox are about to do with Madigral? Grow up everybody does it. Players made a bad CBA it’s their own doing.
Like the White Sox did with Eloy? They sent Eloy to the minors and if Eloy did not sign that extension he would not have been on the opening day roster
Appears that the poor guy doesn’t want to do it, but it looks like the music has stopped and the only chair left says Nick Castellanos – RANGERS. Now I’m sure there are many other suitors w/ standing offers at Blue Light Special prices, but the man has pride. I hope to see photos of Castellanos and Rangers Captain at the welcome press conference.
Shoeless Joe's Diploma
Borus and the Texas RANGERS usually have no problems negotiating a deal…. Rangers over-pay his clients.
With that thought, Castellanos should be a Ranger soon.
Years seems to be the hold up..
Adrian Beltre wasn’t an overpay…
Hasn’t been reported at all, but wonder Dodgers would take a look at a one year deal?
They’ve tried to add offense to the infield and Freese just retired after a very very productive LH starter duties. Mainly 1B with some OF. It’s certainly not ideal but he’s never had a “great” fit imo
He’s a terrible fit for the cubs. Schwarber, heyward and Castellanos is the dream outfield for every team in the central. They know how the knocks will just fall in
Castellanos is a pumpkin.
dynamite drop in monty
Yo dis guy stirs da sauce
Sorry, Steve, but even Castellanos’ Cubs numbers were far from Ruthian. Great numbers for Nick, embarrassing numbers for the Babe.
exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally.
Heard rumblings of AZ being interested in having him take Adam Jones’s spot.
I could see that. AZ was a lot closer to a playoff spot last year than I think a lot of people realize.
Castellanos loved hitting in Wrigley…..maybe he is holding out knowing something BIG will happen with the Cubs.
Remember, Dexter Fowler walked into Cubs camp on first day when he returned to them.
Blue jays could use him
I think when Bryant is traded, there will be more names thrown in to make the trade a MAJOR BLOCKBUSTER !
And the Dodgers will be our trade partner.
Bryant & Contreras…along with Lester, Quintana, Alzolay. for……May, Ruiz, C. Taylor, Maeda and other Prospects.
Dodgers do not win it all in 2020…..Roberts is gone !
And Mike Soscia is the new Manager
I don’t know about the Giants being listed as a fit here. Obviously they have a spot for him in
the OF but it just seems like a waste to pay him when they’re not going to be competitive. At the price Castellanos should cost why sign a guy with the plan of issuing him a QO or trading him… might as well try a cheap reclamation project if you’re just signing someone with the intention of flipping him. Way less risk involved.
“At the price Castellanos should cost why sign a guy with the plan of issuing him a QO or trading him…”
Because the Giant’s most abundant asset is money. They have plenty of it, and as the article points out, they can spend liberally with plenty of room below the CBT threshold. It’s a way to acquire talent by spending money, and not prospects. They aren’t the best fit, but there is a fit there that makes sense.
Come on Reds!
If he went to the Reds, that, to me, throws that division into a lovely chaos. The Reds are probably already better than the Cubs, maybe could catch the Brewers; this move would have them dueling the Cards for a playoff spot. I don’t think if he goes to the Rangers that they overtake the Astros, who are still a deep and talented team, and maybe not even the Athletics. The Rangers have done a lot to improve, but they were pretty far back of two very good teams last year. The Reds, on the other hand, were just more than half as many games back of 1st and have a good young core. They may not have improved as much as the Rangers, but they also don’t have any team as good as the Astros to chase down.
I sincerely doubt that Nicholas Castellanos is the magic missing piece that suddenly pushes the Reds over the top and makes them a serious contender for the division title.
The Reds might have had the best off-season (besides maybe the ChiSox). It’s not maybe catch the Brewers. They right now are in the thick of it and could win the division. It’s between them and the Cardinals. The reds have something the Brewers don’t. Its called a rotation. Brewers have a good bullpen but the Reds offense is just as good. This is not the Brewers same staff without pitching coach Derek Johnson. You are right about Texas. The Rangers are not chasing down the division, though.
I think the Reds are a much better team on paper than the Cardinals as of today!!!
The Cardinals have really done nothing to improve their stagnant offense. If anything, by dedicating themselves 2 more years to a washed out Matt Carpenter as an every day starter. Plus the fact they just let their Clean up hitter walk.
Besides the pitching staff, and strong defense, the Cardinals probably won’t find the magic, as a team, they found in 2019.
Currently, the Reds are a much better all around team heading into 2020. Unless the Cardinals Owner has a change of heart about adding to the Cards existing payroll, ( Which he won’t!), the Reds will easily stroll to the Central Division Championship!!!
If the Reds could lock up Castallonos, the Reds are without a doubt the best and the favorite to win the NL Central.
So reds would have winker in L senzel in C and Castellanos in R w Shogo as 4th outfielder? And then give up on Aquino ? Doubt reds are ready for that commitment. Prob get Cast for 4/60 mil roughly. That’s a pretty big commitment for reds with all the other money they have spent. Lineup would be solid though !
Even without Castellanos reds are favorite in central. St. Louis, brewers, cubs have all lost significant players will reds are adding talent. Reds have the best rotation by far too.
In case u missed it – cards are rebuilding, cubs are broke and in turmoil, and brewers have had to replace significant players. It’s reds division to loose
I would refer you to the Fangraphs 2020 projections.
Fangraphs—-Ha! That’s based on opinions!! Statistics are alright but——-anyone who knows how to use statistics, knows how to make a graph look any way they want it to look!!!
Graphs and statistics don’t have anything to do with mental attitude, desire to be the best and the proper knowledge of the techniques of the game!!!
Reds are better than the Cardinals in 2020!!! Unless the Cardinals Bill DeWitt Jr. desires to look past the dumb Carpenter and Fowler contracts and obtain an impact hitter!!! Fat chance of that happening in 2020 with King DeWitt Jr. handling the money.
The Cubs would be foolish to be cheap and not sign this guy. Look what he did.
The Cubs have done next to nothing this winter while waiting on the Bryant ruling. They’ve complained about having no money (which we all know is BS), but haven’t tried packaging Heyward with a good young player to trim salary, haven’t tried to sell Darvish as a rebound candidate, haven’t tried to restock the farm system by shopping Schwarber or Rizzo or someone else. The Cubs are my second-favorite team (albeit a distant second), and the FO sitting on their hands the entire offseason is a complete joke that all fans should be upset about.
You already said this. That the Cubs didn’t do what you suggest doesn’t mean they didn’t try. There needs to be a second team to make a trade.
No one takes Heyward unless they send a boatload of money with him. The guy you will get in return will mirror Heyward puny numbers Rizzo has little trade value except in a player swap. Two big contracts being swapped. Does not help Cubs. Schwarber on a major uptick and was rated eight best left fielder in baseball. Unless you wear a blindfold while watching the games he’s not a bad left fielder he is average with cannon arm His bat was as previously advertised in the second half of the season when the team otherwise tanked. Schwarber gets more intentional walks and has great outfield assist numbers. Why trade this production when you’re getting it cheap. The Astros scandal means Darvish gets a prove up year then might be a trade chip however when teams take on a 20 million a year for fours years they don’t want to give much more. Bryant Contreras and even Quintana have trade value today. A team that thinks they can win series this year will try to get Bryant. Quintana a good candidate to get moved many teams want an established lefty fifth starter. Might happen at trade deadline if not before season. Contreras is an interesting case. If moved look for a Caratini and possible Lucroy platoon. Lucroy probably desperate and would get signed if wants to play for minimum. Say what you want about him but he’s only about ten times better than Descalso. Numbers don’t lie club has better winning percentage with Caratini. He was on a tear last season before broken hand He’s a starter on a lot of teams underrated player maybe as much underrated as Contreras is overrated Joe really had tendency to ride Contreras Maybe with 100 starts with Caratini getting the rest would be better. Contreras breaks down after so many starts. Same with Heyward. He should be a platoon with Almora they need Another everyday outfielder. Preferably center fielder on base guy Few exist and probably none available so Castellanos best option if Bryant gone. End up with hole at third. Have enough in house to cover second and third if Hoerner pans out and can play almost everyday Team needs on base guys not strikeout players Maybe Ross will know how to manufacture runs and manage a pitching staff Joe Maddon knew nothing about these two most important items. All he knew is how to play an infielder or catcher in the outfield and leave a half washed up Lester in after it was clear he didn’t have it on that day and lose 8-5 after Lester gives up 8 runs in five innings. Maddon lost more game than he won For the team last year Owners have a point. Spend 127 m Darvish and 184m Heyward. How much production have they gotten from them? Fourteen pitchers to start? Maybe have to do this if 2nd and third base have starters that produce This way Ross can pull an ineffective starter earlier and win more games Descalso and Happ should be sent away for a six pack
dynamite drop in monty
I would love for the Nats to get creative here and see if he could play 1B or put him in LF and switch Soto to 1B. Would give the Nats that middle of the order bat they desperately need. My guess is he lands in Texas though.
Looks like Cubs are out on NC if the Souza Jr signing holds true.
That was my first thought when I saw the news. Not like they were the favorites anyway, though.
Sousa an AAA player for Iowa cubs same as outfielder from
Was last year. Just insurance and bring up if someone hurt. He’s getting a prove
opportunity and little money
Guys cubs signing to AAA contract do not count against tax rate Have to do this when system lacks players in last stage of development. As far as pitchers go you use more than 20 in a season. Again the signings made now are just to have ready at Iowa to call up when someone goes down does not hurt that player has played in the league before just helps but does not mean he’s getting major league money or team takes a tax hit They have money to spend just not going to throw 100 million doe toilet anymore
Had to win once in a lifetime but would have liked to have Glyber now watch Jimenez in field then tell me Schwarber sucks
Unless I am misreading, this is not the last year Cleveland will have Lindor (unless thy trade him obv)., he has two years left til FA
You are correct
Come to Cleveland!
As a White Sox fan, I say that’d be a shrewd move for Cleveland. Unfortunately for them, I don’t see it happening. They took back a useful BP piece and a crappy OF to unload a 2-time CYA winner just because he was owed $17.5M. Castellanos would be about that much on a one-year deal. For multi-year, maybe a little cheaper, but then they’ve basically kept their payroll the same as before, once you add the guys they got in the trade. If they did it, it would give a much-needed boost to that offense, though.
I wish the White Sox would sign him. I’m not sold on Mazzara in RF. Castellanos is a proven player.
I wanted that, too, but I’m guessing the plan is to go hard after Springer next year.
Yep, Sox will go after some big name next year. Of course their offer will come up ‘just short’, knowing in advance it will be short – BUT, it will generate headlines. Reinsdorfs style.
Toronto needs to get in on this.
He slides into Texas lineup the easiest. He can play on the grass a few days a week, get a couple of DH days, and add another talented player to the AL West.
I’d prefer him to go to Cleveland where they still have a competitive team and he could provide them with a solid bat in the middle of their order.
MLB has taken 4 years to decide this grievance. The fact that it’s taking this long is an absolute disgrace. They know they can’t rule in favor of the player, because the team abused by the rules. So they are making them suffer consequences all the same, by holding them and their off-season “hostage.”
Except for the fact that it isn’t MLB ruling but an independent arbiter, I agree with this assessment. The punishment of delaying is within the rules, just like parking a guy in the minors for a couple of weeks to gain a year of control.
The Cardinals use the rumor mill to gin up ticket sales. They are too cheap. To those that say they are prudent, explain Fowler, Leake, Cecil, et al.
To those who say they’re cheap, explain Fowler, Cecil, etc… Just because they swung and missed like every other MLB organization who’s trying to win does from time to time doesn’t mean they aren’t prudent. It happens. I was surprised they let Ozuna walk for whats essentially a one year prove it deal but I think they like their young outfield prospects and Fowler can’t be moved so it was Ozuna that made the most sense to let go of although they’d trade that subtraction for Fowler in a second it is what it is. Out of the NL central teams I think they have the least question marks but they are by no means some kind of lock for the division. Reds have shocked me and somehow managed to build a competitive roster. The Cubs have some clear upside with a lot of bounce back potential. The Brewers however may be out in 2020. They keep subtracting and as good as Yelich is I think Moose is too big of a bat to lose without it being painful.
Ruthian, like when he was literally dying?
Colorado should sign him. Get Nolan to shut up.
Don’t think he gets the Rox where they need to be but his bat would play well there.
How about 3/45 to play right field on the jays ..
We should know where Nick is headed shortly. Spring training workouts for position players start about Feb 17th.
Jays should be all over him.
Rumor has it he’ll be headed back to Detroit to learn the first base position. He will sign a two-year $40 million contract next week.
Well the Zimmerman and Prince Fielder money comes off after this year. So if Nick can play RF in Detroit, rather than 1st somewhere else. Might be more than a Rumor.
He is likely better than he was with DET, but not as good as he was with the Cubs. Boras is working to get top 5 batter money, and nobody is buying that. He will sign with someone, but for a crapload less than what Boras says he has to get.