After an up-and-down 2019 season that featured a slow start in Detroit followed by a white-hot stretch in Chicago, Nicholas Castellanos is testing the free-agent market.
Below is a list of the latest news and rumors surrounding the 27-year-old outfielder, who is a free agent this offseason.
Reds agree to four-year deal with Castellanos
Jan. 27: The Reds and Castellanos have come to terms on four-year contract, a source told MLB.com's Mark Sheldon on Monday. The club has not confirmed the agreement.
The 27-year-old is the latest addition for a Cincinnati team that has been busy this offseason, signing infielder Mike Moustakas, left-hander Wade Miley and outfielder Shogo Akiyama before zeroing in on Castellanos. More >
Report: Reds emerge as favorites for Castellanos
Jan. 26: We have a frontrunner in the Castellanos race.
The Reds are now the favorites to sign the free-agent outfielder, a source told MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi, who reports that the two sides have made progress over the past several days.
Cincinnati appears to sense an opportunity to make up ground in the competitive National League Central. The reigning division-champion Cardinals currently project for a similar win total as last year, as do the Brewers. And the Cubs are having a quiet winter as they wait for word on Kris Bryant's service-time grievance. Castellanos would likely slot in one corner outfield spot with the Reds, with a combination of Shogo Akiyama, Jesse Winker, Aristedes Aquino or Phillip Ervin in the other corner and Nick Senzel in center.
Morosi also reports that the Giants have negotiated with Castellanos in recent weeks, though it is unknown how far those talks progressed.
Door likely closed on Cubs reunion with Castellanos
Jan. 24: Re-signing Castellanos would certainly make sense for the Cubs after the slugger hit .321/.356/.646 with 16 home runs over 51 games for the club last season, but Chicago's payroll constraints have made that a long shot.
The Cubs haven't handed out an MLB contract this entire offseason, and even Eric Sogard -- who joined the Brewers on a one-year deal worth a guaranteed $4.5 million -- reportedly was deemed to be out of the team's price range.
Castellanos remains unsigned, leaving open the possibility that Chicago could create the necessary space for him by making other moves. However, with the team now close to a deal with outfielder Steven Souza Jr., per a report from MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal, the door can probably be closed on the prospect of a Cubs-Castellanos reunion.
So, if not with the Cubs, where will Castellanos end up? MLB.com's Mike Petriello sees three clear-cut fits for the 27-year-old. More >
Reds reportedly made multi-year offer to Ozuna, now eyeing Castellanos
Jan. 23: At first glance, the Braves' one-year, $18 million deal with Marcell Ozuna seemed like bad news for Castellanos. Not only did Ozuna sign for much less than expected, but he also joined a team that could otherwise have been a fit for his free-agent counterpart.
However, MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reports that Ozuna had multiple multi-year offers on the table -- albeit at a lower average annual value -- than the deal he ultimately signed with the Braves. He opted for the one-year contract to try for something better next offseason, when he'll have no Draft compensation attached to him. Yasmani Grandal, Josh Donaldson and Hyun-Jin Ryu all took that route last offseason, and it paid off in a big way when they tested free agency again.
Per Heyman, one of the clubs that made a longer offer to Ozuna was the Reds, who have now turned their attention to Castellanos.
Cincinnati has been tied to Castellanos throughout the offseason, though those rumors faded a bit following the Shogo Akiyama signing. The Reds have a crowded outfield, but Akiyama, Nick Senzel and Aristides Aquino are unproven at the Major League level, and Jesse Winker has never topped 400 plate appearances in his career.
The Rangers are still in on Castellanos as well, Heyman reports. It's believed that Texas is considering the slugger for first base.
Signing Castellanos would make sense for either team. After all, both currently rank among the bottom five in projected Wins Above Replacement from position players for next season, according to FanGraphs.
What does Ozuna's deal with Braves mean for Castellanos?
Jan. 21: After losing Josh Donaldson to the Twins earlier this month, the Braves made a move to secure a much needed middle-of-the-order bat on Tuesday, signing Marcell Ozuna to a one-year, $18 million contract.
Ozuna's deal puts Castellanos in a tough spot, as it removes another potential suitor from the mix and may require the 27-year-old to temper his contract expectations.
Back in November, MLB Trade Rumors predicted that Castellanos would get $58 million over four years, while projecting a three-year, $45 million contract for Ozuna. Obviously, Ozuna ended up signing for much less than that.
Castellanos does have a few factors working in his favor. He is more than a year younger than Ozuna, has been more productive over the past two seasons and doesn't have a qualifying offer attached to him, which means teams don't need to surrender a Draft pick to sign him.
However, there aren't many teams in the market for a high-priced outfielder. Among clubs that have been connected to Castellanos lately, the Rangers are perhaps the frontrunner to sign the slugger at this point, though it's certainly possible that a club such as the Reds could jump in if his price tag drops due to the lack of demand.
Castellanos could also continue to wait in hopes that the Cubs make some moves to open up the payroll space necessary to re-sign him.
Braves and Rangers both in on Castellanos?
Jan. 15: Having watched Josh Donaldson -- their third baseman in 2019 -- take a four-year offer from the Twins, what's next for the Braves? And how can they hope to replace Donaldson's big bat in the lineup?
The two biggest free agents left on the board are Nicholas Castellanos and Marcell Ozuna. While they're both outfielders -- not necessarily an area of need like the hot corner is for Atlanta -- they do provide production that would bolster the offense.
Are the Braves interested? It appears so, as they "do like" Ozuna, and have "at least touched base" with Castellanos, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, who suggested that Ozuna seems like the more likely fit.
The Rangers also have been linked to Castellanos of late, and if they choose to add another bat after bringing in third baseman Todd Frazier and catcher Robinson Chirinos, "it seems that Castellanos is their target," according to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan.
If Atlanta does add either Castellanos or Ozuna, the club suddenly would have a glut of outfielders, as Ender Inciarte currently is in line to start in center field with Ronald Acuña Jr. and Nick Markakis in the corners.
That could present an opportunity to trade either Markakis or Inciarte, with the latter a more appealing piece given his age (29), team-friendly contract ($15 million through 2021 with a $9 million option or a $1 million buyout for '22) and defensive ability.
In the wake of losing Donaldson, the Braves do not have a clear answer at third base, but they appear to be considering using Johan Camargo there, with Austin Riley -- who also could play in an outfield corner -- as another option.
Of course, there's also likely to be speculation that Atlanta could make a push to trade for Rockies star Nolan Arenado or Cubs stud Kris Bryant, whose names have been popular on the rumor mill for much of the offseason.
Who's a better fit for Rangers: Castellanos or Ozuna?
Jan. 14: Nicholas Castellanos and Marcell Ozuna are the most likely candidates to fill the Rangers' need for another right-handed bat, according to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan.
While both players have a similar profile, Castellanos could be the preferred choice for Texas because he doesn't have any Draft compensation attached to him, as Sullivan wrote.
The Rangers, in fact, are among the favorites for Castellanos, a source told MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi, who added that the club's pursuit of the outfielder is "active."
Ozuna, on the other hand, declined a qualifying offer from the Cardinals, and as a result, other teams need to surrender one or more Draft picks to sign him. Castellanos was ineligible for a QO after being traded during the 2019 campaign. More >
Why Cards could prefer Castellanos to Ozuna
Jan. 11: Nicholas Castellanos and Marcell Ozuna have been lumped together as comparable free-agent corner outfielders with big bats for much of the offseason. As such, a lot of the same teams have been linked to both players, but there's one club in need of outfield help that could make a savvy decision in its pursuit of these two.
The Cardinals, who would appear to need to add an outfielder in the wake of sending José Martínez and Randy Arozarena to the Rays for pitching prospect Matthew Liberatore earlier in the week.
While there have been reports that the Cards could look to bring back Ozuna, who has indicated that a return to St. Louis is his preference, there's also a strong case for the team to go after Castellanos instead. The gist of it is that Castellanos is not tied to Draft-pick compensation because, unlike Ozuna, he was not presented with the qualifying offer at season's end by virtue of having been traded during 2019.
In other words, there's no penalty for signing Castellanos, but there is for Ozuna. Plus, if Ozuna inks elsewhere, the Cardinals would get an extra Draft pick (and the accompanying bonus pool money that comes with it), meaning St. Louis actually might have motivation to let Ozuna walk away, especially if a similar player is available.
MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal pointed out this strategy, as relayed by an MLB executive.
Why Reds may be out on Castellanos now
Jan. 8: It's been reported throughout the offseason that the Reds have expressed interest in free agent Nicholas Castellanos, but could that be changing?
It's not necessarily that Cincinnati no longer is interested in Castellanos. Rather, it's a matter of whether the 27-year-old could fit into the club's outfield in the wake of the Shogo Akiyama signing, according to MLB.com's Mark Sheldon.
While Reds GM Nick Krall did not rule out more outfield additions, it seems unlikely the team would pursue Castellanos or Marcell Ozuna -- the two biggest names among outfielders still on the market. Cincy did have interest in both players before signing Akiyama, Sheldon noted.
"We're going to be opportunistic and see what we can do to make this club better as we move toward Spring Training," Krall said.
With Akiyama now in tow and expected to see action at all three outfield spots, the Reds would seem to have plenty of depth there, including Nick Senzel, who is slated to start in center field, and fellow second-year player Aristides Aquino, who showed down the stretch of 2019 that he deserves a shot to handle one of the corner spots. As for the other corner outfield position, 26-year-old Jesse Winker remains in line there.
While the Reds still may like Castellanos and Ozuna, might it be overkill to bring either one in at this point?
Morosi: Rangers among finalists for Castellanos
Jan. 7: Sources tell MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi that the Rangers are among the finalists to sign Castellanos. Per Morosi, Castellanos recently met with Texas and came away with a favorable impression.
Castellanos is one of two marquee free-agent outfielders, along with Marcell Ozuna. Both players have similar profiles, but Castellanos has a number of factors working in his favor.
Castellanos is more than a year younger, he had a better 2019 season and he doesn't have any Draft compensation tied to him.
Ozuna rejected a one-year, $17.8 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals, which means teams other than St. Louis will need to forfeit one or more Draft picks to sign him. Castellanos was ineligible for a QO after being traded during the season.
It's not exactly clear how likely the Rangers are to sign Castellanos. On Tuesday, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Jeff Wilson cited a club official saying the team hasn't yet made Castellanos an offer, and that Texas wouldn't do something like move Joey Gallo to first base to accommodate Castellanos in right field. Plus, even though Castellanos played mainly third base for his first four full seasons in the Majors, the Rangers don't envision him playing there, per that report.
But what the Rangers could do, as Morosi notes, is sign a cheaper third baseman like Todd Frazier, move Castellanos to first base and keep Gallo in the outfield. More >