Cincinnati Reds: Exercising his option is a no-brainer for Nick Castellanos

CINCINNATI, OHIO - AUGUST 14: Nick Castellanos #2 of the Cincinnati Reds runs the bases after hitting a three run home run. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OHIO - AUGUST 14: Nick Castellanos #2 of the Cincinnati Reds runs the bases after hitting a three run home run. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

Expect Nick Castellanos to be in a Reds uniform next season.

I expect, very soon, to hear that Nick Castellanos has exercised his player option with the Cincinnati Reds for the 2021 season. The landscape basically dictates that he does so. With Major League Baseball teams likely to be cutting payroll, picking up his player-option for the 2021 season seems like a no-brainer.

Reds Country was ecstatic earlier this year when Nick Castellanos signed a four-year/$64M contract with Cincinnati. The excitement quickly turned sour when fans realized that Castellanos may only set up shop in the Queen City for one season.

Castellanos’ contract affords the slugger the opportunity to opt-out of his current deal following both the 2020 and 2021 season. In effect, the contract Castellanos signed gave him an out in the event that his value might be higher this offseason or next. With the cost-cutting measures going on throughout baseball, that does not appear likely.

Yesterday, fans in St. Louis saw the Cardinals wave goodbye to longtime second baseman Kolten Wong. The Cardinals did not pick up Wong’s team-option $12.5M option, deciding instead to pay the $1M buyout. Wong now joins Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright in the free agent market.

Wong was the first big name player to have his option declined, but he may not be the last. The Chicago Cubs have a choice to make regarding first baseman Anthony Rizzo, and we’ve seen the Minnesota Twins decline the option of Sergio Romo. Former Reds third baseman Todd Frazier is also a free agent after having his option declined.

No one knows what each team’s budget will be heading into next season, and with so much uncertainty surrounding the inclusion of fans at ballparks in 2021, owners may be bracing for a very lean winter in terms of spending.

Furthermore, it wasn’t as though Nick Castellanos had a dominant performance in 2020. Castellanos hit the cover off the ball early, slashing .382/.462/.912 with three doubles, five home runs and 12 RBIs in the first 10 games, but the Cincinnati slugger ended his 2020 campaign batting .211/.250/.421.

Castellanos’ overall slash line last season was .225/.298/.486 with 14 home runs and 34 RBIs. I, for one, am not going to out a lot of stock into the numbers generated during a pandemic-shortened season, but general managers sure are. While his BAbip of .257 makes Castellanos’ number look a little better, his career-high 28.5% strikeout-rate brings his value back down.

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Given his performance and what’s likely to be a very tepid free agent market, it’s a no-brainer for Nick Castellanos to exercise his $14M player option for the 2021 season. Castellanos will get another crack at free agency next offseason if he’d like.