When the Reds signed Shogo Akiyama earlier this month, GM Nick Krall mentioned that they might not be done making moves.
That came true today, as the Reds and Nick Castellanos agreed to a 4 year, $64 million deal with two opt-outs in the first two seasons. Castellanos had been rumored to sign with the Rangers and Cubs, but word got out yesterday that the Reds were the clear front-runners to finish the deal. They ended up finishing the deal.
“This is a guy that’s going to strengthen and lengthen our lineup,” Dick Williams said in his opening statement at the Castellanos press conference.
Castellanos had a good career in Detroit, but his midseason trade to the Cubs sparked his fire. The 27-year old played in 51 games for Chicago and quickly became a fan favorite because of his hustle and attitude. He slashed .321/.356/.646 and collected 21 doubles, 16 homers and 1.2 WAR in that short time. Between the Tigers and the Cubs, he led baseball with 58 doubles. That power will definitely translate at Great American Ball Park.
When asked about his relationships with current Reds, Castellanos mentioned his rise through the Tigers’ organization with Eugenio Suarez, playing against Joey Votto and Mike Moustakas and how he respected them. “All of these guys have great character, and that is huge for a team that has one common goal,” Castellanos said. “I got texts from people I didn’t have in my phone that welcomed me here.”
Castellanos’ signing also made sense for another reason: he loves Opening Day. For the city that does Opening Day best, it makes sense for a player who believes that every day is Opening Day to play in Cincinnati. “It’s kind of a motto I came up with…to be the best version of myself every day,” Castellanos added.
When he was asked what his expectations of the club were now that he joined, he simply stated, “Win.”
I love him already.
There will now most likely be six capable outfielders on the 26-man roster: Castellanos, Akiyama, Nick Senzel, Jesse Winker, Phillip Ervin and Aristides Aquino. There are some questions to be answered about Senzel’s role going forward, and while the platoon of Ervin and Winker is still a possibility, I think we know what we have in those two guys. If needed, Aquino still has one option left where he can play every day in Louisville this year.
I believe that the Reds will rely on Castellanos, Akiyama and Senzel to play in the outfield every day. While there are multiple rumors about Senzel being on the trade block and as fans debate whether he can move back to the infield, I think the club will hold on to him. They have kept him despite multiple trade offers from the Indians and other suitors. At this point, why would you give Senzii up now? He’s just scratching the surface of his potential. Unless his trade would bring Francisco Lindor or a player of his caliber to Cincinnati, he’s pretty much untouchable to me. Winker and Ervin will make spot starts depending on the pitcher and will be useful as pinch hitters. Aquino can be called up when needed unless they decide he is necessary on the bench, and that depends on how many pitchers David Bell wants to carry throughout the season.
However Castellanos is used, though, it will be good to have his energy in the Reds clubhouse with the already-hungry group of guys in there. He single-handedly rejuvenated that Cubs team last year with his aggressive style, and put their team on his back. While ultimately he didn’t succeed in getting them back to the postseason, Castellanos won’t have to do that in Cincinnati. Joey Votto and Mike Moustakas will help to shoulder that load.
Ultimately, Castellanos’ contract incentivizes him to succeed. If he has a monster 2020, the Scott Boras client will most likely opt out and look to cash in again. While that wouldn’t be ideal for the Reds, it would likely mean that his play brought the Reds to the postseason and maybe even the World Series. If Castellanos does stay, though, he has all the makings of being a fan favorite for one of the Cubs’ biggest rivals. He’s one of those guys that you love when he’s on your team but hate when he plays against you. I’m pretty damn glad he’s on my team now. Read the replies that Cubs fans had when they posted a farewell message to Castellanos.
Welcome to Cincinnati, Nick. Cubs fans are salty that they didn’t sign you, and Reds fans are happy that you’re here.