The Chicago Cubs Nicholas Castellanos has proven to be exactly what the team needed at the trade deadline. With his contract expiring at the end of the season, will Theo Epstein lock up the newest Cubs outfielder?
New Chicago Cubs outfielder Nicholas Castellanos has embraced Chicago, and the city has embraced him right back. Through just 18 games as a Cub, Castellanos is slashing a remarkable .365/.405/.743 with seven home runs and nine RBIs. Castellanos has seemingly reaped the benefits of playing in a competitive atmosphere, as well as playing in hitter-friendly Wrigley Field.
He’s also already made an impression on his manager, who praised the way Castellanos plays the game with child-like enthusiasm. Castellanos hasn’t taken anything for granted. Not the opportunity to play for the Chicago Cubs, or being able to receive such high remarks from his new skipper. Before Tuesday’s game, Castellanos became emotional when describing what it’s like to hear Maddon’s speak so highly of him.
"“It’s easy for something that we love to get looked at like a business,” Castellanos said at the Cubs on Deck Luncheon series hosted by Laurence Holmes on 670 The Score. “I feel like that sucks — not just in baseball, but just like in everything in life. It just makes me feel good to hear (Maddon) say that.”"
Unfortunately for Castellanos and the Cubs, the business will play a role in whether the perfect honeymoon phase is a precursor to a lengthy Cubs career for the new star outfielder.
What a new contract would look like
Castellanos is only 27 and in the prime of his career. He’s due to make a substantial amount of money on his next contract, which doesn’t bode well for a Cubs team hindered by recent financial constraints. However, the Cubs do have a lot of money coming off the books after this season. Cole Hamels, Ben Zobrist, Pedro Strop, Brandon Kintzler and Steve Cishek all have expiring contracts after this season. Maybe one of those players gets a new deal, but in all likelihood, the Cubs will have the bulk of that money coming off of the payroll.
Castellanos would likely require more than the $56 million of those contracts combined. But it may be worth it to shore up a Cubs outfield that has tried many different combinations throughout this season. Jason Heyward and Kyle Schwarber have been mainstays, but many other players have been used to cover the last outfield spot.
Albert Almora, Kris Bryant, Ian Happ, Castellanos and Zobrist have all been used in the outfield at some capacity. It would be refreshing to be able to plug-in Schwarber, Heyward and Castellanos daily, but it would require some moving pieces. If the Cubs were to lock up Castellanos, they’d likely be making Almora or Happ available via trade during the Winter. Almora has struggled mightily at the plate in a Cubs uniform and would be a likely candidate for a change of scenery.
In theory, a Castellanos extension sounds ideal, but it is contingent on Cubs ownership signing off. I’d estimate that Castellanos is looking at a deal that could reach around $100 million over 5-6 years depending on how he finishes up his season, and how the market fluctuates during this free agency
The Ricketts family has been reluctant to open up their checkbook over the past year and a half. But an opportunity to keep Castellanos in a Cubs uniform may be too beneficial for the team to pass up. Very rarely do you see a player fit in with a team the way Castellanos has with the Cubs. With the Cubs championship window slowly shrinking, it would be wise for the team to find a way to keep Castellanos in Chicago for a while.