After a key free agency decision Thursday, could the Philadelphia Phillies have a new target.
According to MLB Network‘s Jon Heyman, Cincinnati Reds right fielder Nick Castellanos exercised the opt-out clause in his contract. Castellanos had two years and $34 million remaining on his contract, but will now look for a more lucrative deal.
First, the Reds figure to extend a one-year/$18.4 million qualifying offer, which Castellanos is likely to decline. That would allow Castellanos to become a free agent, but assure that the Reds recoup draft compensation if he departs.
Castellanos, a nine-year veteran, was one of the better hitters in baseball in 2021. He had a .309 batting average, a .362 on base percentage, 34 home runs and a 3.3 fWAR. He did this despite dealing with a wrist injury in July.
Here’s where the Phillies come in. During his end-of-the-season press conference, Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski talked about his desire to add another middle-of-the-order bat.
“To me, going out and getting big-ticket items isn’t always the answer, because we have big ticket items,” Dombrowski said in a press conference on Oct. 6. “Now I do think we need somebody in the middle of the lineup to be a middle-of-the-lineup hitter other than Bryce (Harper). To be a guy who is a real threat that can protect him. How do you go about doing that? We’ll have to wait and see what ends up taking place.”
But Castellanos won’t be a bargain. Some estimates, such as Spotrac’s, say that Castellanos’ contract value will be around six years and $128 million. For a team that’s trying to bolster their bullpen and pitching rotation that may be too expensive.
Additionally, because Castellanos will likely need to decline a qualifying offer to become a free agent, the Phillies would need to surrender their second highest draft pick in 2022 and $500,000 of international signing bonus pool money to land him.
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