According to a report from Jon Paul Morosi of MLB Network, the Reds are now seen as the “clear frontrunner” to sign free-agent outfielder Nicholas Castellanos, with Morosi adding that the two sides have made progress in their negotiations over the past few days.
The Giants have also been in contact with Castellanos in recent weeks, per Morosi. The Rangers have also been strongly linked to the 27-year-old. And while Castellanos is decidedly the best slugger left on the market, it could very well be a three-team race for his services; when we explored the best fits for Castellanos last week, we also named the Indians, Cardinals, and Cubs as potential landing spots, but all of those teams have displayed a certain reluctance to splurge on free agents and seem unlikely to do so in this case.
Cincinnati is already looking at a pretty busy outfield mix—especially at the corners, where Castellanos would play—but none of the Reds’ existing pieces can quite match the offensive firepower that Castellanos would add to the lineup. Aristedes Aquino, Jesse Winker, and Phil Ervin are all likely to be deployed frequently in the outfield corners, with Shogo Akiyama and Nick Senzel representing options for the centerfield job.
If indeed the Reds wind up inking Castellanos, two of the aforementioned teams would be doubly hurt by missing out: the Cubs and Cardinals, of course, would have to turn around and deal with the division rival Reds several times every year.
MLBTR originally predicted that Castellanos would earn a four-year, $58MM deal in free agency. There’s still a chance he could reach those numbers, but the one-year, $18MM contract signed by Marcell Ozuna last week might reflect how the industry values Castellanos, whose profile and on-field value resembles that of Ozuna. Castellanos, though, is more than a year younger and doesn’t come with a qualifying offer attached, so signing teams won’t have to worry about surrendering draft pick compensation.