Nick Castellanos figures to be one of the offseason’s most sought-after free agency commodities, as there doesn’t appear to be much doubt that the outfielder will opt out of the final two years and $34MM of his current Reds contract. Such talks, however, are to be saved for the offseason, as Castellanos told The Detroit News’ Chris McCosky and other reporters that he is only thinking about the Reds’ playoff race.
“Any speculation about free agency is nothing that’s come from my mouth,” Castellanos said. “Right now, the only thing that’s next for me is focusing on winning here. We have a chance to win here. I’m not going to squander that opportunity by thinking about something that’s after the season.”
Castellanos entered today’s action with 26 homers and a .321/.377/.578 slash line over 478 plate appearances, a performance that earned the first All-Star nod of his career. As he approaches his age-30 season, Castellanos looks well-positioned to land a much heftier deal than two years/$34MM, though playing for a winning team is his chief priority. The Reds will have to come up with a big offer to keep Castellanos in the fold, but their case of providing Castellanos with a winning environment will be bolstered if they can reach the postseason for the second consecutive year.
A healthy Jesse Winker would greatly help Cincinnati’s chances of landing the second NL wild card berth, as the slugger has been on the 10-day injured list since August 16 due to an intercostal strain. Reds manager David Bell told reporters (including MLB.com’s Mike Petraglia) that Winker could start a minor league rehab assignment next weekend, “on the very positive, optimistic end of things.” While there is clearly a lot of caution baked into Bell’s statement, he noted that Winker is “definitely progressing,” with an increased amount of baseball activity expected for this week.
Brad Brach, meanwhile, has already started a rehab assignment at Triple-A Louisville and is on pace to be back in Cincinnati’s bullpen sometime this week. Brach went on the 10-day IL on August 8 due to a right shoulder impingement, after posting a 5.59 ERA over his first 29 innings in a Reds uniform.
The outlook is much less clear for Nick Senzel, however. Bell told MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon and other reporters that Senzel recently had a second opinion about his surgically-repaired left knee, and “It seems that it’s going to take a while for him to get back and healthy. I don’t know what that means for the rest of the season, but it didn’t sound like it was going to be any time real soon.”
Senzel underwent the arthroscopic procedure in late May and was supposed to miss only 4-6 weeks, though he was eventually moved to the 60-day IL. The Reds activated him in mid-August, only to send Senzel back to the IL after fluid was discovered in his knee. Senzel is currently rehabbing at the Reds’ Spring Training facility in Arizona, hoping to make a return and salvage something from what is unfortunately looking like a lost season. The second overall pick of the 2016 draft has been hampered by multiple injuries during his brief career, limiting him to 163 games (and a .246/.308/.396 slash line) and 616 PA since the start of the 2019 season.