With the news coming out on Thursday morning that Nick Castellanos had opted out of his contract with the Cincinnati Reds, the list of MLB free agents had a big name added to it.
Just after the World Series concluded, we published a list of the top 25 free agents who would be available this offseason. That list, however, did not include Castellanos as, at the time, he had not yet opted out of his contract with the Reds that still had two years and $32 million left on it.
So, with that in mind, here’s the big question:
Where does Nick Castellanos now rank among the current MLB free agents?
Using the same list we used as the basis to rank our top 25, you can see that Castellanos has accumulated 4.5 WAR (per FanGraphs) over the past two seasons. That includes 4.2 this year as he pieced together a .309/.362/.576 slash line with 38 doubles, 34 home runs, 100 RBI, and an OPS+ of 136.
Now a free agent, Castellanos is actually the highest-ranking primary right fielder among the free agent class, well ahead of Michael Conforto who came in tied for 24th at 2.9 fWAR.
At 4.5 fWAR, Castellanos is now tied for 12th on the list with Chris Taylor, who put up a strong offseason for the Los Angeles Dodgers after struggling in the second half of the season. Only Starling Marte’s 6.7 fWAR (putting him fourth overall on the Top 25 list) is higher among outfielders than Castellanos and Taylor.
With his opt-out decision, Castellanos is expected to be one of the most sought-after free agents this offseason. Certainly the Reds could make an offer to try to retain the 29-year-old Castellanos, but after trading away Gold Glove-winning catcher Tucker Barnhart on Wednesday and proclaiming, “…we must align our payroll to our resources and continue focusing on scouting and developing young talent from within our system,” will the Reds really be willing to invest more money into Castellanos, despite his impressive numbers from 2021?
The New York Mets, Chicago White Sox, and Colorado Rockies seem to be potential fits if they can find the resources to make a Castellanos deal work.
With one decision, Castellanos altered the free agent landscape and very likely decided to change teams in the process.