Chicago Cubs, Nick Castellanos reunion still an extreme long shot

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Even back in December, we knew the odds of the Chicago Cubs bringing back Nick Castellanos were slim – and not much has changed on that front.

MLBTR penned a piece breaking down the markets for not just Castellanos, but another former Cub in Kyle Schwarber. Pairing them together makes sense given their similar profiles – and while Chicago could certainly use more offense in 2022, there’s pretty much no chance Jed Hoyer ponies up the funds (or, in Castellanos’ case, potential draft pick compensation) required to make a reunion reality.

As things currently stand – and by no means are they anywhere near final since the ongoing lockout has stopped the typical offseason wheeling and dealing in its tracks – the Cubs will head into 2022 with some combination of Jason Heyward, Ian Happ, Clint Frazier, Harold Ramirez and Michael Hermosillo plugged into the three outfield spots.

Happ is the only sure thing of that bunch and I’m applying that term liberally given his dramatic tale of two halves we bore witness to in 2021. Heyward will get the chance to start in right again for no other reason than the team owes him $44 million over the next two years and left field will be a scrappy battle for playing time.

Castellanos could be looking for a deal in the seven-to-eight-year range (although he’ll be lucky if he manages to get it) – and is a cut-and-dry bat-first presence. His defense is mediocre, at best, and he’s best suited to DH moving forward. Assuming the designated hitter becomes commonplace in the Senior Circuit in the new CBA, you might think there’s still a chance – but here’s why you’re mistaken.

Chicago Cubs have questions that need answering before adding to the outfield

As you can see in that piece from MLB Trade Rumors, the potential market for both players is immense and there are numerous better fits than the North Side for both. Chicago is going to use 2022 to do the following things when it comes to their outfield mix:

  1. Try to finally figure out what exactly Happ is going to be. Is he the guy who looked like he was going to be non-tendered halfway through the year or the one who ranked among the best hitters in the league over the final six or so weeks?
  2. Determine if they’re at the end of the road when it comes to Heyward. We’ve seen teams eat bad contracts before and if he can’t rebound with the bat, it may be time to make a difficult decision with the veteran outfielder.
  3. Let the kids play. Frazier and Hermosillo want to prove themselves and it stands to reason that, at some point, top prospect Brennen Davis is going to get the call. You’re not going to block reps for any of these guys if you can help it.

And as far as the DH goes (again, looking at the roster as currently constructed), you’re going to see a lot more of Willson Contreras in that role to keep him fresh, with Yan Gomes getting regular reps behind the dish. Of course, that all changes if/when Contreras is traded, but for now, you need to get both of these guys regular playing time.

Next. 3 likeliest Cubs to be traded before the deadline. dark

Despite his tremendous power and extra-base potential, Castellanos swings and misses – a lot. (Only Javier Baez and Avisail Garcia swung at more pitches outside the strike zone last year) Would the veteran make the Cubs better in 2022? Probably. But to Hoyer and the front office, that short-term gain would be too much of a gamble to take a risk like this in free agency, especially now that they finally have a near-clean slate financially.