MLB Free Agents: Top 5 available players and best fits

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - OCTOBER 04: Josh Donaldson #20 of the Atlanta Braves reacts after an RBI single off Jack Flaherty #22 of the St. Louis Cardinals in the first inning in game two of the National League Division Series at SunTrust Park on October 04, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GEORGIA - OCTOBER 04: Josh Donaldson #20 of the Atlanta Braves reacts after an RBI single off Jack Flaherty #22 of the St. Louis Cardinals in the first inning in game two of the National League Division Series at SunTrust Park on October 04, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) /
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Three MLB free agents that need a strong September
(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Top 5 MLB Free Agents: Nick Castellanos, OF

27-years-old — 4 years, $56 million

Widely known as a bat-only player, Castellanos is coming off two of the best seasons of his career, posting 3.0 WAR and 2.8 WAR in 2018 and 2019, respectively. His 58 doubles last season led the majors, as well as the 104 he has hit since the beginning of the 2018 season.

With the bat, he’s a top-25 player in the majors, but with the glove, he is literally the worst among qualified players (-33.3 Def combined over his last 2 seasons), worse than guys like Josh Bell, Shin-Soo Choo and J.D. Martinez in the field.

On offense, Castellanos hit a healthy .289 while slugging 27 home runs in 151 games with the Tigers and Cubs, posting an above-average 121 wRC+.

As you can see, there’s a lot to like about Castellanos: he hits for a solid average, he doesn’t strike out a ton, he has power and he’s a doubles machine that averages 40+ doubles per season. But his issues on defense has been a bugaboo for him his entire career.

Teams are obviously completely aware of his inadequacy on defense, though in 2019 Castellanos was much better with the glove, going from a -20.7 Def in 2018 to a -12.6 mark in 2019 (-12.9 UZR to -5.2). Granted, Castellanos is still far from being a strong defender, and his defensive skills will only continue to deteriorate as he ages; but, he deserves credit for posting his best defensive season since 2016.

Looking back at Castellanos’ skills on offense, the 27-year-old right-handed batter also seems to be somewhat oblivious as to whether a righty or lefty is on the mound. For his career, Castellanos is a .268 hitter versus righties while hitting .306 against southpaws; those splits were even better in 2019, as he hit .272 and .370, respectively.

Overall, Castellanos seems to be the perfect fit for an AL team, though his success with the Cubs in 2019 may actually make that narrative somewhat weaker.

Steamer predicts more of the same for the outfielder, pegging Castellanos for 149 games and a .275 average with an identical home run total of 27 in 2020. Unfortunately, the system doesn’t think his improved defense will stick, giving him a rough-looking -16.5 Def, meaning he looks to be more of 1-2 WAR player rather than the 2-3 WAR player he was this past season.

Regardless, interested suitors will have to just accept who Castellanos is as an offense provider and find a way to, if it’s an NL team, deal with his poor defense. For AL teams it’s quite obvious… of all the available MLB free agents, pencil him in as the DH and let him rake.

Best fits: Indians, White Sox, Rockies