Joey Ricotta | January 27th, 2020
Nick Castellanos has inked a deal with the Cincinnati Reds for four years and $64 million. The deal includes an opt-out after the 2020 season. The former Detroit Tigers and Chicago Cubs outfielder drew the interest of many clubs. Let’s take a look at what he will provide his new club with and why it makes sense.
On a personal note, Castellanos was one of the easiest players to write about based on the number of games I watched him play last year. As a lifelong Cubs fan, I was hoping he would return to Chicago on a somewhat team-friendly deal. Sure, that might sound like hogwash to some, but there are cases where it’s happened. The video below gave me hope.
Granted, Joe Maddon is no longer the Cubs’ manager, but it speaks to Castellanos’ character and his thoughts on how everything in life is looked at as a business when maybe it shouldn’t be.
Getting out of Detroit was exactly what Castellanos needed. Comerica Park is a big ballpark that likely got into Castellanos’ head a bit, as a lot of his hard-hit balls, that likely would’ve been home runs in other ballparks, wound up being long fly outs. Since joining the Cubs at the trade deadline, Nick went on to mash the baseball and became a Cubbie faithful fan favorite. In nearly half the amount of games, as he played for the Tigers (51 compared to 100), Castellanos hit five more home runs for the Cubs (16-11), finishing the season with a total of 27 bombs.
It wasn’t just his home run total that improved either. After moving to the North Side of Chicago, Castellanos slashed .321/.356/.646 (1.002 OPS), compared to a .273/.328/.462 (.790 OPS) slash line with the Tigers.
Castellanos saw three fewer pitches in 2019 than he saw in 2018, with eerily similar statcast numbers. First of all, it’s eerie that he faced almost the exact same number of pitches as he did the year prior, but he also had an identical 11.2% barrel rate in 2018 and 19. Exactly 53 barrels in each of the last two seasons. His 53 barrels this past season, ranked 16th in the Majors and second on the Cubs, behind only Kyle Schwarber.
Speaking of statcast data, each of the last four seasons, baseball savant has ranked Castellanos in the 82nd percentile or better in xBA, xwOBA, and xSLG.
The Cincinnati Reds will be getting, by all accounts, a great clubhouse guy. He greeted former Cubs manager Joe Maddon every day with “Happy Opening Day,” displaying a rather unorthodox and zen-like approach to every game. Castellanos gave the Cubs a much-needed spark, although ultimately, they fell short of the playoffs.
Nick Castellanos tells Joe Maddon “Happy Opening Day” before every game— Rick Tarsitano (@RickTarsitano) August 21, 2019
I asked him why
“Prove to me it’s not”
“If what has happened is a memory and whats going to happen is a thought, you’re taking yourself out of right now. So in that case, every day is Opening Day” @WGNNews pic.twitter.com/Bzn37s2Eiu
The Reds will be getting a doubles-hitting machine with above-average power. Castellanos led all of baseball with 58 doubles in 2019. Castellanos mashes lefties also, with a lifetime .306 batting average against them. One area of concern is his lackluster defensive abilities, which leave a lot to be desired. Every year since becoming a big leaguer, Castellanos has graded out negatively in terms of defensive runs saved and ultimate zone rating.
What he lacks defensively, he should make up for with the stick. The 27-year old will be 28 when opening day rolls around and is likely just entering his prime. Castellanos is a great addition, especially to the Reds who are expecting to contend for the next few years.
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Main Credit Image: Embed from Getty Images