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Reds: 3 internal replacements should Nick Castellanos opt out of his deal

CINCINNATI, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 25: Nick Castellanos #2 of the Cincinnati Reds hits a walk-off home run. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 25: Nick Castellanos #2 of the Cincinnati Reds hits a walk-off home run. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
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Nick Castellanos #2 and Jesse Winker #33 of the Cincinnati Reds celebrate.
CINCINNATI, OHIO – JUNE 09: Nick Castellanos #2 and Jesse Winker #33 of the Cincinnati Reds celebrate. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

Nick Castellanos signed a four-year/$64M contract with the Cincinnati Reds prior to the 2020 season. As part of the agreement, Castellanos could choose to opt out after either the 2020 or 2021 season. While Castellanos has yet to make his intentions known, there’s a good chance today’s game in Pittsburgh could be his last in a Reds uniform.

Sure, Castellanos could choose not to exercise his opt out clause and remain with Cincinnati for the next two seasons. However, after going to the All-Star Game for the first time and putting up MVP-type numbers during this second season in the Queen City, all signs point to the 29-year-old entering free agency.

There’s a chance that Castellanos could opt out of his current deal and sign a new contract with the Reds. However, given how Cincinnati’s ownership spent money, or should I say didn’t spend money last offseason, that scenario seems unlikely.

Most likely, Nick Castellanos will exercise his right to opt out of his current deal, the Reds will extend a qualifying offer to him, and Cincinnati will receive draft compensation should the slugger sign a new contact with another club. If Castellanos does indeed leave Cincinnati this offseason, who will be the Reds’ new right fielder in 2022?

1. Jesse Winker could replace Nick Castellanos as the Reds right fielder.

For now, we’ll just focus on internal replacements, and Jesse Winker‘s name could be near the top the list. Yes, he’s currently Cincinnati’s starting left fielder, and played some solid defense there this season. But, Da Wink has experience in right field, and shifting him back to the other side of the outfield might allow David Bell to experiment a bit more in left field.

Winker saw action in right field during five games this season, earning one start and logging 15.2 innings of work. Winker started one game in right field last season, but spent the three previous seasons recording 645 innings in right field. However, in those three seasons Winker netted -12 defensive runs saved, suggesting he’s not even an average right fielder, defensively.

Winker has logged -5 DRS over the past two seasons while playing 900-plus innings in left field. Winker also has a fringy arm, and is much better suited for playing left field in the big leagues. That said, if the Reds don’t make any additions to their outfield this winter, Jesse Winker is certainly an option to take over for for Nick Castellanos in right field.

In all likelihood, Winker will suit up as the Cincinnati Reds starting left fielder on Opening Day next season. However, Shogo Akiyama is better suited to play left field rather than right field. The Reds have tried Tyler Stephenson in left field this season. And, we’ve seen Max Schrock get considerable time at the position. Even Kyle Farmer has logged two innings in left field.

Those scenarios are the only ones in which I see Winker starting more games in right field than left field. If that truly is the case, and the Reds go with some combination of Akiyama, Schrock, and Farmer in left field, this team will have much bigger problems entering the 2022 season.

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