I've been waiting to write this article since Nicholas Castellanos signed with the Cincinnati Reds in the 2019-20 offseason. The Chicago Cubs need to do everything in their power to bring the former Cub back to the North Side.
Sure, anyone who knows me knows I'm a die-hard Castellanos fan. I fell in love with the player in 2019 after being hidden from the baseball world in Detroit. In fact, I went ahead and had a jersey made when he came to the Cubs because I became such a fan. Now, it's time to bring him home.
The Cubs are in a position to bring Nick home. There is a small hiccup or two with the proposed move, which we'll get to shortly, but overall this feels like a golden opportunity after he opted out in Cincinnati.
Castellanos is one of the biggest names on the free-agent market this season. Yes, I haven't forgotten about the trio of former Cubs traded at this past deadline. However, the 29-year-old outfielder is undoubtedly in the same conversation.
Now, why does Nick work with the current Cubs roster? Well, looking top to bottom at the lineup, there is one glaring need, power. Sure, Frank Schwindel, Patrick Wisdom, and Ian Happ can all provide power (in addition to Willson Contreras), but the team lacks a consistent power threat.
Wisdom strikes out a lot. That's normal with many power bats in the MLB. Schwindel I personally categorize as more of a complete hitter (hits for average with some pop), and Ian Happ is streaky. Contreras provides good pop as well but he has proven he'll hit in streaks too. Enter Castellanos, a consistent power bat that would thrive in the middle of the lineup if the Cubs can get men on base.
In addition, Castellanos brings a clubhouse presence that will mesh well with the current Cubs. Castellanos meshed well with the culture established under Joe Maddon, but David Ross has preserved and possibly improved that culture with the current club. Inserting the free agent into that clubhouse will not only benefit everyone there but also continue the model they established when Ross took over as manager.
Let's get it out of the way, I love Nick Castellanos. That's it. That's all you need to know. He is the perfect player both on and off the field for the Chicago Cubs. The fanbase fell in love with him even though he only played 51 games for the Cubs. Imagine if he signs a multi-year deal?
Bringing a player in that the fan base loved will also do a lot for the Cubs. He will contribute on the field immensely. No offense to Jake Arrieta, but that move felt like more of a public relations signing than a meaningful addition to the team. Now, the Cubs can right a possible wrong when they didn't re-sign Castellanos following the 2019 season.
"Nicky Two Bags" also provides that double-to-home run style. It's not "home run or bust" for Castellanos. He can add extra-base hits that don't leave the yard but still provide meaningful production to the offense. For example, in those 51 games with the Cubs in 2019, Castellanos hit 16 home runs but added 21 doubles as well. 37 extra-base hits in 51 games is truly an incredible stat.
There are two glaring cons regarding a possible addition of Castellanos. The first con is with his addition, the team is not better defensively. If the designated hitter is added with the new CBA, that changes this situation a bit. But for now, his average-at-best defensive play is something the Cubs have to take into account.
In addition, Castellanos will undoubtedly be qualified by the Reds. He'll reject it, but that qualifying offer will link Castellanos to a draft pick upon signing. Sure, this can change also with the CBA in theory, but for the time being it is a relevant piece of information for the Cubs' front office to consider.
Aside from those two points, and if you want to consider the structure of his next contract too, there aren't many points that say the Cubs shouldn't try to bring him back. However, the cons are heavy enough pieces of information that can balance the rationale for signing Castellanos. Even so, it feels really difficult to argue against the Cubs signing Castellanos as a free agent this winter.
Now is the time. The Cubs can not only add a meaningful bat for the future, but they can also excite the fan base by bringing back a fan favorite. Very few "rentals" have made the impact that Castellanos did on the Cubs and their fans. Now, he is a prime candidate to join a team that is on the rise and "rebuilding" faster than usual. The addition of Nicholas Castellanos certainly aids in the speed of said "rebuild".
Go ahead Jed, take a leap of faith. As a fan, I understand the Cubs don't want to go crazy and spend a ton of money this offseason. However, spending big money on a bat and a pitcher feels reasonable. Castellanos as that big bat would be a quality addition for the present and future. If the dollars work, pull the trigger and make it happen. Bring Nick home.