Former Cubs outfielder Nicholas Castellanos reportedly agreed to a four-year, $64 million deal with the rival Cincinnati Reds on Monday morning.
If you were holding out hope, you can let go now. Former Chicago Cubs outfielder and fan favorite Nicholas Castellanos will not be returning to the North Side next season – at least not as a member of the Cubs.
According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the slugging outfielder agreed to a four-year, $64-million deal with the Cincinnati Reds. This deal includes a pair of opt-outs, coming after the 2020 and 2021 campaigns.
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Shortly after the deal was reported, Heyman noted Cincinnati is considering former first-round pick and outfielder Nick Senzel. He made his big league debut last year at 24 – but it’s hard to envision a scenario where he gets regular playing time given the team’s roster crunch.
The Reds have been uncharacteristically active this offseason and look like a very real contender in a division where several teams have been quiet this winter. Seeing the club sign Castellanos is especially upsetting for Cubs fans, especially after the impact he made on the team in the second half of the 2019 season.
Amidst the middle of a disappointing year, the Cubs made one undisputed move that appeased fans and gave everybody hope again, acquiring Castellanos at the trade deadline. The outfielder was a big bat that bolstered the lineup and gave them the push they needed to contend. Castellanos did all in his power to keep Chicago in the postseason race until the very end of the season.
Castellanos put up pretty solid numbers with Detroit prior to the trade, but the 27-year-old turned it up a notch in Chicago, hitting .321 with a 1.002 OPS with the Cubs. He narrowly missed becoming the first player in decades to eclipse 60 doubles in a season – and moving to the hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark should bode well for him.
For the year as a whole, the esteemed outfielder averaged .289 hitting a career-high 58 doubles and 27 homers in 151 games. The fact that Castellanos was healthy and able to play a total of 151 games only increases his value to a team like the Reds. This is one of those moves that could haunt the Cubs as they’ll face Cincinnati 19 times this year.
So with Castellanos off the board, the last major free agent has a home. There’s no denying this could hurt for awhile for fans in Wrigleyville. The front office has been extremely quiet all offseason due to ownership’s desire to steer clear of the luxury tax in 2020. We all knew that the odds of Castellanos reuniting with the Cubs were slim, especially with the recent reported signing of outfielder Steven Souza Jr, but there was always that slight glimmer of hope – that is now a thing of the past.
This is the final nail in the coffin when you’re looking at the reality facing Chicago just weeks before the team reports to Mesa. You’re not spending money, you just lost a guy who completely changed your lineup to a division rival and, more and more, you’re looking like a long-shot to win the National League Central this year.