JANUARY 7: The Texas organization has not even met with Castellanos or made him an offer, a team official tells Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. That’s an unusual and rather direct dispute of a simple factual point — i.e., whether or not a meeting has occurred.
The Rangers to hold some interest in Castellanos, per the more recent report, but it’s predicated on utilizing him at first base rather than in the outfield. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News also explored this concept yesterday. It’s said to be possible the club could add both Castellanos and Todd Frazier, with the latter slated primarily for action at third.
Meanwhile, Rangers president of baseball operations Jon Daniels says that the team isn’t focused on adding a center fielder. Joey Gallo isn’t expected to line up there primarily, says Wilson. Rather, it seems Danny Santana will be given a chance to build off of his surprising 2019 showing.
The focus at present, according to Wilson, isn’t necessarily all that splashy. Texas wishes to improve its roster options behind the dish, at first base, and in the relief corps.
JANUARY 6: The Rangers have emerged as a finalist to sign free-agent outfielder Nicholas Castellanos, Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports. The two sides had a recent meeting that went well, according to Morosi.
The soon-to-be 27-year-old Castellanos came into the offseason as one of the best position players on the open market. The top of the free-agent list has rapidly emptied out since then, leaving Castellanos among the few players on the board with significant earning power. MLBTR predicted a four-year, $58MM payday for Castellanos when free agency commenced, but with many FAs raking in more money than expected this offseason, that could prove to be a light projection in his case.
Along with the Rangers – who have been active in upgrading their pitching staff but haven’t done much to better their offense – the White Sox, Cubs, Giants, Diamondbacks and Marlins have been connected to Castellanos in the rumor mill. But the White Sox may be out of the mix after landing outfielder Nomar Mazara (previously a Ranger), re-signing first baseman/designated hitter Jose Abreu and adding another 1B/DH in Edwin Encarnacion. The Cubs – with whom Castellanos finished last season after a trade with the Tigers – aren’t in big-spending mode, which could cost them Castellanos. The Diamondbacks addressed their corner outfield by signing Kole Calhoun, meanwhile, and the Marlins did so when they picked up Corey Dickerson.
All things considered, it’s not surprising the Rangers appear to be among the front-runners for Castellanos. The club’s rotation looks a lot better now that Corey Kluber, Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles are aboard, but its offense has seemingly taken a step back with Mazara (who was disappointing as a Ranger, granted) and free agent Hunter Pence gone. Based on his track record at the plate over the past few seasons, Castellanos would help Texas’ cause. But whether Castellanos would play passable defense is always in question, and his shortcomings in the field are a key reason he’s still available.