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With Castellanos signed, what's next for Reds?

@m_sheldon
January 28, 2020

CINCINNATI -- The Reds feel they’ve helped solve their offensive issues by adding outfielder Nick Castellanos, who was introduced on Tuesday after inking a four-year, $64 million contract. Castellanos' signing is the fourth major free-agent deal Cincinnati has completed this offseason, and the third that addressed the lineup -- along

CINCINNATI -- The Reds feel they’ve helped solve their offensive issues by adding outfielder Nick Castellanos, who was introduced on Tuesday after inking a four-year, $64 million contract.

Castellanos' signing is the fourth major free-agent deal Cincinnati has completed this offseason, and the third that addressed the lineup -- along with Mike Moustakas and Shogo Akiyama.

But even with one significant question seemingly answered, the Castellanos acquisition created a bunch of new ones for the Reds just weeks before the start of Spring Training on Feb. 13, in Goodyear, Ariz.

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

The Reds now have 10 outfielders on their 40-man roster. How will they fit?
Akiyama and Castellanos are expected to see regular playing time. But it will be up to manager David Bell to find playing time for several others -- including center fielder Nick Senzel and corner outfielders Jesse Winker, Aristides Aquino and Phillip Ervin.

“Of course, I’ve thought a lot about it. I’ve started talking to a lot of players about it,” Bell said. “One thing that makes it doable and easier, and in the end, makes it a huge positive for us is we do have guys that No. 1, are willing to do whatever it takes to help us win. Even though it’s super important for them to know their role and what to expect, they’re also willing to be flexible and do things out of their comfort zone. That part will make it easier for me.”

“From a roster-construction standpoint, our goal this year was to build a team that could win a championship,” president of baseball operations Dick Williams said. “To do that, it has to be deep and it has to be strong. You have to have multiple options at every spot. … It was important to us to put as much quality into the 25-man roster that we give David, and really the 40-man, as possible.”

Senzel was immediately rumored to be a top candidate to get traded. Will he be moved to clear some of the outfield logjam?
Senzel, the Reds' former top prospect -- a natural infielder -- learned center field at Spring Training last year and debuted to much fanfare in May. He batted .256/.315/.427 with 12 homers and 42 RBIs in 104 games, but he was also banged up with myriad injuries. The most serious was to his right shoulder, which required surgery in September with an expected recovery completion near the start of camp.

“I don’t expect him not to be [here],” Reds general manager Nick Krall said. “I don’t know where that came from. You can speculate all you want, but he’s on our team.”

Much of the speculation about Senzel being dealt has involved Cincinnati upgrading at shortstop. Is Freddy Galvis still in the plans as the regular at that position?
“He is our guy,” Krall said of Galvis. “Look, we’ve canvassed the trade and free-agent market and at the end of the day, this is what we came up with to improve our team as best we could. Freddy is coming in. He hit [23] home runs last year and plays solid at shortstop. I don’t expect anything less from him.”

Could the odd man out be Aquino?
Aquino burst on to the scene as a rookie with 14 homers and 1.158 OPS in August before a big swoon that left him with five homers and only a .619 OPS in September. The 25-year-old also has a Minor League option that would enable the club to keep him back at Triple-A Louisville until he is needed, but Bell was still enthusiastic about Aquino’s talent.

“I believe that what we saw in August, he’s a lot closer to that player than what we saw in September,” Bell said. “I really believe in him as an all-around player. Even though I don’t know how exactly it will all work out, he’s going to be a big part of this team, I think, for years to come. Don’t forget about him.”

Which outfield spot will Castellanos play? Left field or right field?
A former third baseman with the Tigers, Castellanos has spent most of his time in the outfield in right. But metrics also rank him near the bottom, defensively. Statcast credited him with minus-7 Outs Above Average in the outfield. Among qualified right fielders, according to Fangraphs, Castellanos was ranked last with minus-9 Defensive Runs Saved.

“We’ll have to see,” Bell said. “I’ve looked at [him] more as a middle-of-the-order bat, and a guy who takes a lot of pride in his defense and will continue to get better.”

Who in the lineup can move around?
As Bell mentioned, roster flexibility and players’ willingness to be flexible will be most helpful. Several Reds can play more than their primary positions. Moustakas is the starting second baseman, but he is a three-time All-Star third baseman. Senzel can play the outfield and infield. Eugenio Suárez can play shortstop in addition to his regular third base, though his status for Opening Day is in question after he underwent surgery on his right shoulder. Winker, Akiyama and Ervin can play all three outfield spots. Bell also planned to discuss having Castellanos spell Votto occasionally at first base. Both catchers -- Tucker Barnhart and Curt Casali -- can also play first base.

“We’ll have conversations about who can do what,” Krall said. “We’re working through that right now and, ‘Who can do other things to maximize your team on a given day?’ And go from there.”

Are the Reds serious contenders now in the National League Central?
Let’s hear from a rival manager, Craig Counsell of the Brewers.

“The Reds have been the most active team,” Counsell said during last weekend’s Brewers fan fest. “We have been very active. The Cardinals and Cubs have not been very active this offseason. What does that mean? I don’t know what to tell you that means. We always evaluate it on the most active team wins -- that’s not always the case. The Reds look better on paper, there’s no question. They were better last year than they had been in previous seasons. Their pitching -- specifically their starting pitching -- presents a lot of challenges. It’s a solid group of guys. Look, we know there are challenges in the division. The Cubs are a strong, strong team with great core position players. The Cardinals were the division winners last year and made a pretty good run at the World Series. It’s a competitive division. You always expect the last week of September to be … deciding it.”

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook.