Reds: Top free agency priorities for Nick Krall after 2021 season

CINCINNATI, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 01: Nick Castellanos #2 of the Cincinnati Reds walks across the field. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 01: Nick Castellanos #2 of the Cincinnati Reds walks across the field. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /
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Nick Castellanos #2 of the Cincinnati Reds looks on.
MIAMI, FLORIDA – AUGUST 29: Nick Castellanos #2 of the Cincinnati Reds looks on. Can Nick Krall and Reds front office hang on to Castellanos? (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

No, we have yet to complete the 2021 season, but it never hurts to look ahead. The Cincinnati Reds have several players approaching free agency, and there are a plethora of talented players from other teams who’ll enter the free agent market this winter. Which free agents should Reds GM Nick Krall attempt to sign this offseason?

The Reds were aggressive in the free agent market two years ago, bringing in Mike Moustakas, Nick Castellanos, Shogo Akiyama, and Wade Miley. However, last winter, Cincinnati moved on from Archie Bradley, Raisel Iglesias, and Curt Casali while only making one big league signing; left-handed reliever San Doolittle.

What direction might Nick Krall and the Reds front office go this offseason? Coming off what fans hope is a trip to the postseason, will they spend big once again? Or, might we witness a return to the thrifty Redlegs we’re used to seeing? Let’s take a peek at some of the top free agents the Reds should prioritize signing this offseason.

1. Nick Krall and the Reds should ink Nick Castellanos to a multi-year extension.

How the Cincinnati Reds handle Nick Castellanos’ impending free agency will tell fans a lot about how Nick Krall and front office plan to approach the entire offseason. Castellanos signed a four-year contract prior to the 2020 season, but has the ability to opt out of the final two-years of the deal. In doing so, Castellanos will leave $34M on the table.

While Castellanos hasn’t yet committed to staying in Cincinnati or testing the market, I can almost assure you that Castellanos will opt out of his contract and see what offers he could potentially secure on the open market. In fact, he’d be foolish not to.

Nick Castellanos is in the midst of a career-year and should be considered one of the Top 5 NL MVP candidates. The right-handed slugger is second in the league in batting average and doubles, third in slugging percentage, and ranks in the Top 20 of the National League in home runs, RBIs, and on-base percentage.

It’s a virtual guarantee that Cincinnati will extend a qualifying offer to Castellanos which he will likely reject. This will give the Reds some measure of compensation in the event that Castellanos leaves this winter.

Nick Castellanos should be Cincinnati’s first, second, and third option on the free agent market, and until he signs (either with the Reds or elsewhere), Nick Krall needn’t pursue any other free agents. The Reds have the means to retain Castellanos, though it may require some creative trades to free up enough payroll to get a deal done.