Nicholas Castellanos, the longtime Detroit Tigers outfielder who hit 23 or more home runs in each of the past three seasons, on Monday agreed to the terms of a free-agent contract with the Cincinnati Reds.
The deal is for four years and is pending physical, confirmed by Yahoo Sports. Castellanos will help augment the Reds’ offense, which was sorely lacking during the 2019 season. While the team is currently awash in outfielders, Castellanos’s health and offensive skills make him an attractive option for an outfield that struggled with injuries last season.
Castellanos, 27, played six seasons in Detroit before being traded in the middle of last summer to the Chicago Cubs. Playing for a contending team again, Castellanos hit 16 home runs, batted .321 and OPSed 1.002 in 51 games for the Cubs. He led the major leagues with 58 doubles, 21 of them with the Cubs, and finished with 27 home runs, his career best.
In his past two seasons, Castellanos is a .294 hitter, averaging 25 home runs and 52 doubles with an on-base percentage of .346.
Castellanos would benefit in free agency from the deadline trade in that he would not be encumbered by a qualifying offer. Also, because he debuted with the Tigers at age 21 and quickly became a regular, he reached free agency at an uncommonly early age.
He is not considered a particularly good outfielder, a shortcoming that would not be expected to change in the coming years. For that reason, Castellanos might have held greater long-term value for an American League team, which could cover some of Castellanos’ at-bats at designated hitter. A National League team defensively strong at its other two outfield positions might give Castellanos’ defense little thought.
Still, Castellanos was, with Marcell Ozuna, the most attractive free-agent outfielder available, as a consistent hitter who hits with power. He has played at least 148 games in all but one of his big-league seasons.
The early market for him included the Cubs, for whom he’d played so well in the season’s final two months. He was also expected to draw interest from the San Francisco Giants, whose corner outfielders were some of the least productive in the game. They also hired Scott Harris, the former Cubs assistant general manager, to be their general manager, under Farhan Zaidi. He’d bring first-hand knowledge of Castellanos’ impact.
The Texas Rangers and Chicago White Sox, among others, were thought to be willing to engage with Castellanos and his agent, Scott Boras, as free agency wore on.
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