- Reds Sign outfielder Nicholas Castellanos to a four-year, $64M contract
- The Reds have spent more than $160M in free agency in productive offseason with weakened NL Central expected
- Most recent signing continues to add value to the Reds’ 2020 World Series odds
It’s been quite the MLB offseason as we approach pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training in less than three weeks.
The signings came early and often as many of the big names were off the market before Christmas – unlike recent years – and while some lingered longer than others, the final major domino on the free agent market has now fallen.
Reds Sign Castellanos to Four-Year Deal
The Cincinnati Reds have once again ponied up and have signed outfielder Nicholas Castellanos to a four-year contract worth $64M, as per The Athletic.
While it’s a four-year term, the deal include a rare opt-out after just one season which would put Castellanos back on the free agent market if he were to enjoy a big season in the hitter-friendly confines of Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.
Castellanos also gets the unusual opt out after year one #reds
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 27, 2020
Castellanos spent the first 5 1/2 years of his career with the Detroit Tigers after they drafted him in 2010, but was traded to the Chicago Cubs at the July 31st trade deadline and exploded from there on out.
Castellanos slashed .321/.356/.646 with a 1.002 OPS, 16 home runs and 21 doubles for the Cubs across 51 games, quickly becoming a fan favorite in the process. Castellanos’ 58 doubles between the Tigers and Cubs were the most in baseball in 2019 while he set a new career-high with 27 home runs as well.
For his career, Castellanos has hit .277 with a .797 OPS and 112 wRC+, although his defensive deficiencies have limited him to a career-high of 3.0 WAR from the 2018 season and even with the career-year with the bat in 2019 he finished with a 2.8 WAR.
Still, his bat and home run power were largely suppressed by the pitching-friendly confines of Comerica Park in Detroit over the years and should be better served by the hitter-friendly confines of Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.
Castellanos will likely play right field for the Reds in 2020 despite posting a -9 defensive runs saved in that position in 2019, as per FanGraphs.
Signing Caps Productive Offseason For Reds
With the Cubs seemingly taking a step back this offseason and the Brewers staying quiet as well, the Reds’ front office saw an opportunity to get better in a division that has likely gotten weaker.
On top of the Castellanos signing, the Reds have made multiple upgrades in spending $164M this offseason. They include:
- Signing infielder Mike Moustakas to a four-year, $64M contract
- Signing Japanese outfielder Shogo Akiyama to three-year, $21M contract
- Signing starting pitcher Wade Miley to a two-year, $15M contract
Three of the four upgrades are on the offensive side of the ball where the Reds struggled last season.
The Reds ranked 22nd with a .312 wOBA last season, missing out on a big opportunity as their pitching was among the best in baseball.
The Reds made significant rotation upgrades including adding Sonny Gray, Tanner Roark and Alex Wood to the staff last offseason, and they traded for Trevor Bauer mid-season.
The result was a 4.12 ERA from their rotation, good for ninth league wide. Combined with a nice effort from their bullpen and the Reds’ pitching staff ranked eighth with a 4.18 ERA and ninth with a 4.23 FIP in 2019.
All the sudden, the Reds’ projected 2020 rotation looks rather formidable in a division that lacks high-end offense.
This is what I see their rotation looking like with 2019 ERAs in parentheses:
- Luis Castillo (3.40)
- Sonny Gray (2.87)
- Trevor Bauer (4.48)
- Wade Miley (3.98)
- Anthony DeSclafani (3.89)
If Bauer can get back to his 2018 form before a line drive off the shin ended his Cy Young chances, this is a dangerous group. He, Castillo and Gray all posted at least 10.52K/9 in 2019.
Given the elite-level projected rotation, it makes sense why the Reds’ front office went out and paid for some thunder to compliment the pitching for the 2020 season.
World Series Odds & Value Outlook
As noted, the Reds have seemingly improved significantly and should certainly be contenders in 2020.
This is happening at the same time that the Cubs decided against spending in free agency and lost Cole Hamels as well. The Brewers lost Moustakas to the Reds, Eric Thames to the Nationals and have serious questions in their rotation.
Add in the rebuilding Pirates and the Reds now look like the team most primed to take a run at the defending NL Central champion St. Louis Cardinals.
To me improving significantly in a division that’s headed in the opposite direction gives the Reds a wealth of value at +2500 odds to win the 2020 World Series, as per BetOnline.
When we consider the Cubs at +2000 and the Brewers at the same +2500 odds, I’m liking the Reds a whole lot more.
Defense could be an issue, but having a trio if high-strikeout arms in the rotation helps. If that rotation and bullpen can deliver again this season, the Reds should find themselves in the hunt for their first NL Central crown since 2012.
Add in the elite top-three rotation members in a potential playoff series and I am all over the Reds at these 2020 World Series odds.