Nicholas Castellanos was an outstanding trade addition by the Cubs, just minutes before the July 31 deadline. Acquired from the Tigers for minor-league pitchers Paul Richan and Alex Lange, Castellanos hit .321/.356/.646 (68-for-212) with 21 doubles and 16 home runs for the Cubs in just 51 games. He brought energy to the ballclub with home runs like this [VIDEO].
(Check out the bat flip, or toss, or slam, or whatever you’d like to call it, at :31 into that video.)
Now he’s a free agent, and the question posed today is: Should the Cubs re-sign him?
This is a question that doesn’t have a single, simple answer. With Castellanos in right field, the only position he could play on the Cubs with Kyle Schwarber in left, that forced Jason Heyward into center field.
That’s obviously not an optimal defensive arrangement. Thus if Castellanos is re-signed, one of the other outfielders likely has to be traded, and a more traditional center fielder acquired. Heyward’s contract is likely not movable, so if the Cubs decide to re-sign Castellanos, Schwarber might wind up on the trade market.
The other factor, of course, is the cost in dollars to retain Castellanos. Last month at Fangraphs, Dan Szymborski wrote an article headlined “No, Nicholas Castellanos Is Not Getting A $100 Million Contract,” and indeed. I concur with Szymborski and his reasoning using his ZiPS projection system:
ZiPS projects a three-year contract worth $45 million and $31 million over a two-year deal.
That sounds about right; that projection assumes he’d be playing the field. If he went to an A.L. team as a designated hitter:
As a DH, ZiPS projects a three-year, $60 million contract for Castellanos based on production alone.
Honestly, as good as Castellanos was for the Cubs and as much a fan favorite as he became in just two months here, I don’t see a fit going forward. For his part, Castellanos said all the right things:
Asked if he wanted to return, Castellanos simply replied: “What do you think?”
“Let’s see what happens,” he said. “I loved the fans here. Being able to walk to and from the park, just seeing how much they genuinely love the Cubs, whether we’re winning by 10 or losing by 10.
”They love their Cubs, and I think it’s awesome. It’s great. It’s pure. And it was a lot of fun to be a part of that.”
“Man, I love everything about Nick Castellanos,” Theo Epstein said in his end-of-season presser Monday afternoon. “What a job he did coming in. I don’t think you can ask more of an in-season trade acquisition than what he did. The production, the consistency, the dynamic at-bats that he had and then the way he went about it — just with a lot of passion, a lot of professionalism, a lot of hard work, a team-oriented approach. Really became invested in the Cubs and his teammates in a short period of time.
”Love the way he plays the game and would love to have him back. It’s obviously a more complicated issue than just we do love to have the guy back. He’s worked long and hard to get to free agency. He had an unbelievable year — especially his time with the Cubs — and he deserves the right to take that into the free-agent market. He knows that we’d love to have him back, but he also knows that it’s not as simple as that.”
If — and this is a big if — the Cubs could get Castellanos back for a reasonable amount of money and then trade Schwarber for pitching help and a true center fielder, maybe it’d be worth doing.
Otherwise I’m thinking the Cubs thank Castellanos for two months of fun and great production, and wish him well elsewhere.
This poll is closed
... sign him to a three-year deal for around $45 million
... sign him to a deal for a different number of years and amount of money
... say "Thanks for the memories" and let him sign with another team
... something else (leave in comments)