Cubs watch as Nicholas Castellanos puts up MVP-like numbers early on

Nicholas Castellanos / Chicago Cubs (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Nicholas Castellanos / Chicago Cubs (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

The Cubs have to be regretting letting Nicholas Castella nos walk away.

If you put money on Nicholas Castellanos picking up where he left off last season, you’re in a good spot. After he finished 2019 on a torrid pace, breathing life into a sleeping Cubs offense, fans were desperate to see Tom Ricketts break out his checkbook and bring the slugger back long-term.

Instead, Chicago shopped the bargain bin yet again to try to shore up their core – and we watched Castellanos sign with the division-rival Cincinnati Reds. As part of their offseason spending spree, the Reds inked the 28-year-old to a four-year, $64 million deal with a mutual option for 2024.

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Now, that deal includes a pair of opt-outs, coming after the 2020 and 2021 campaigns, respectively. But given the financial uncertainty surrounding the game due to COVID-19, it’s hard to imagine Castellanos testing the waters, especially after this year. Sorry to rain on your parade if you’re hoping for him to return to the North Side in 2021 – but it doesn’t seem all that likely.

So, naturally, not only do we have to come to grips with that – but Castellanos has opened the season on an absolute tear offensively. He entered action Saturday with a .347/.418/.857 slash line, leading all of baseball with a 1.251 OPS and seven home runs.

"“I would say just from my maturity’s standpoint, I’m more aware of myself as a player and as an individual,” Castellanos told the Detroit News. “I think I can enjoy and recognize the situation at hand much more than when I was a 21-year-old kid, doing my best to survive in the big leagues.”"

Safe to say, Castellanos is doing more than surviving – he’s thriving in his first season with the Reds. He made sure to remind the Cubs what they were missing when Chicago battled Cincinnati in late July. He belted two home runs, drove in seven and batted .455 in 13 plate appearances.

Now, we have to try to come to terms with the idea that he’ll be a thorn in the side of Chicago for years to come – bringing everything that could have made this year’s Cubs offense otherworldly to every matchup, with an eye on making sure they know what they’re missing out on.

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For a guy who plays every day like it’s Opening Day and sat, looking out over the railing at Wrigley Field after the team’s final home game last year, you can’t help but love Castellanos. But that love will certainly wane if he continues to put up MVP-like numbers for years to come.