The latest buzz is that the Cincinnati Reds are attempting to re-sign Nick Castellanos. Whether this is just some publicity stunt on behalf of the Reds' ownership or an honest attempt to make the club better, the Cincinnati faithful are on pins and needles waiting to hear where Castellanos lands.
The Reds have spent the better half of this week re-organizing their 2022 roster. Sonny Gray, Eugenio Suárez, Jesse Winker, and Amir Garrett were all traded over the course of four days, and Cincinnati has made some small free agent additions with the signings of Donovan Solano and Colin Moran.
What would the Reds lineup look like with Nick Castellanos?
If the Cincinnati Reds miraculously re-signed their All-Star outfielder, the entire outlook on the 2022 season changes. The Reds instantly become contenders in the National League Central and could certainly lay claim to one of the now-six playoff spots in the NL. Let's project what Cincinnati's lineup would look like with the addition of Castellanos.
1. Jonathan India, Reds second baseman
You can bet your bottom dollar that fellow Florida native Jonathan India would love to have Nick Castellanos back in a Cincinnati Reds uniform. The reigning NL Rookie of the Year is sure to lead things off for the Redlegs whether Castellanos returns or not.
2. Tyler Naquin, Reds left fielder
All of the sudden, Tyler Naquin would go from right field to left field, and he could even serve as the Reds designated hitter. Naquin primarily played up the middle last season, but with Nick Senzel back healthy (for now), let's slide the former Cleveland outfielder to Jesse Winker's old spot.
3. Nick Castellanos, Reds right fielder
While being the team's DH on occasion is certainly plausible, one thing the Cincinnati Reds might have over the Philadelphia Phillies (the other team pursuing the free agent outfielder), is the ability to offer Nick Castellanos the ability to start in the outfield. It's doubtful that Castellanos would supplant reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper in right field for the Phillies.
4. Joey Votto, Reds first baseman
Joey Votto would love to have Castellanos batting in front of his on a regular basis. The former MVP could see as the team's designated hitter as well, but more times than not, we're likely to see Votto suit up at first base and bat clean up for the Reds in 2022.
5. Tyler Stephenson, Reds catcher
Tucker Barnhart is gone, and Tyler Stephenson is expected to be the Cincinnati Reds everyday catcher. Just like the aforementioned group of Naquin, Castellanos, and Votto, Cincinnati's backstop could find time as the Reds DH in 2022 as well. It's also not out of the realm of possibilities that Stephenson takes over at first base for Votto on occasion.
6. Mike Moustakas, Reds third baseman
If you're sensing a theme, you'd be correct. Mike Moustakas could rotate as the Reds DH, and prior to the team trading Eugenio Suárez, that was thought to be where we'd routinely see Moose line up. With Geno off to the Emerald City, expect to see Moustakas get the lion's share of starts at the hot corner for the Reds in 2022.
7. Nick Senzel, Reds centefielder
After spending nearly the entire 2021 season on the injured list, Nick Senzel is said to be 100%. TJ Friedl, Jake Fraley, and Shogo Akiyama offer a left-handed bat versus right-handed pitchers, but so long as the former first-round pick is healthy, I'd expect to see Senzel start the majority of games in center field.
8. Kyle Farmer, Reds shortstop
Until Jose Barrero unseats Kyle Farmer, Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell made it sound as though the shortstop position belongs to the veteran. We could easily see Barrero and Farmer platoon in 2022, and the former Dodgers' farmhand offers a great deal of defensive versatility all over the field.
9. Donovan Solano, Reds designated hitter
The DH will be something that no one person clings to in 2022. As was mentioned earlier, players like Nick Castellanos, Tyler Naquin, Mike Moustakas, Tyler Stephenson, and Joey Votto could all take turns rotating through the position. It's also a way to get Jose Barrero's bat in the lineup. Against left-handers, I'd expect to see Donovan Solano in the lineup one way or another.
So there you have it. If by some chance Nick Krall and the Reds front office are able to lure Nick Castellanos back to Cincinnati, the club would have a very formidable lineup. You'd have to assume that any potential contract with Castellanos would be over five years in length and likely cost the Redlegs $20M-plus per season. We'll see the Reds get a deal done.