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After opting out, could Nick Castellanos be a target of the Phillies?


Nick Castellanos could become a free agent this offseason. (Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)

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.”

The Phillies have some room to work with, too. According to Phillies Nation‘s Jonny Heller, the Phillies have around $28.6 million under the luxury tax threshold this offseason. 

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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