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Yesterday, two significant transactions happened that could impact how the postseason races shake out in the National League. They also feature two outfielders that were popular targets during the Sox Machine Offseason Plan Project to address the White Sox glaring need in right field.
First, Nicholas Castellanos signed with the Cincinnati Reds. The contract itself is an interesting setup as it features opt-outs after the first two years.
#Reds officially announce singing of OF Nicholas Castellanos to a 4-year, $64-million deal with a player option for a fifth & opt-outs after 2020 & 2021. Castellanos will make $16 MM in 2020, 2022 & 2023, $14 MM in 2021. $20 MM option in 2024 with $2 MM buyout— C. トレント・ローズクランズ (@ctrent) January 27, 2020
If Castellanos repeats his performance with the Chicago Cubs, and the Reds would love that type of production (.321/.356/.646 in 51 games) in 2020, then he’s opting out and will test free agency again. However, the Reds can slap the Qualifying Offer on Castellanos and receive a draft pick if signs elsewhere. Or, Castellanos accepts the QO and gets an additional $4-plus million in 2021.
Any regression back to the hitter Castellanos was with Detroit, and he may have second thoughts about opting out. After 2021, Castellanos would have at least two years, $32 million with a chance to be three years, $52 million if the club option is picked up. Or, Castellanos can opt-out and see if he can score a larger deal. Castellanos has options, and this sort of contract structure is very Scott Boras.
After signing Castellanos, the Reds outfield is crowded. They already signed Shogo Akiyama to pair with their outfielders from last year in Nick Senzel, Jesse Winker, and Aristides Aquino. Perhaps signing Castellanos suggests that Reds general manager, Nick Krall, could move Senzel, Winker, or Aquino to address other areas of need. Maybe another blockbuster deal with Cleveland could be had in trying to acquire Francisco Lindor?
That type of deal would be far-fetched as Spring Training nears. Still, the Reds have improved their offense this offseason with Castellanos and Akiyama joining Mike Moustakas as new faces in their lineup. Is it enough to make them the favorites in the National League Central? Probably not, but winning the Castellanos sweepstakes hurts a divisional rival in the Chicago Cubs, preventing a reunion.
While the Castellanos news was still warm, the Arizona Diamondbacks made a deal with Pittsburgh in trading for Starling Marte. According to Diamondbacks GM Mike Hazen, the trade came about the past couple of weeks.
“Little bit probably through the winter meetings, died a little bit after that and then we picked it back up probably about ten days ago I would imagine,” Hazen said.
“We sort of picked up contact again for whatever reason. It sort of just came back around, we connected on a few things and were able to get a deal done.”
Arizona now has added Marte and Kole Calhoun to their outfield plus the addition of Madison Bumgarner to the starting rotation. The Diamondbacks finished 85-77 last year and have added a few wins to their roster this offseason. If you’re looking for an excellent investment opportunity, you’ll find some sportsbooks still holding the Season Win O/U total at 83.5 for Arizona.
In return for Marte, the Pittsburgh Pirates received high ceiling/low floor prospects in 19-year old shortstop Liover Peguero and starting pitcher Brennan Malone. FanGraphs has a 50-grade for Peguero and a 45+ grade for Malone. Neither are in any publications Top 100 lists (Baseball America, MLBPipeline, Baseball Prospectus). This first move from new Pirates GM, Ben Cherington, signals what most in baseball thought would be another rebuild in Pittsburgh. Their current payroll is already garnering the wrong kind of attention.
Gerrit Cole’s $36 million AAV would represent 83% of the Pirates’ current payroll https://t.co/GRa4cuh4GU— Devan Fink (@DevanFink) January 27, 2020
With MLB revenue sharing of national television deals, the Pittsburgh Pirates will receive an estimated $40.5 million in the league’s contracts with ESPN and Fox in 2020. Add in their regional TV money, which is another $20 million, and the Pirates can easily pay their 26-man payroll without a single fan attending a game. That should make teams exceeding or hovering around the Luxury Tax happy.
As for the White Sox, now seeing what Marcell Ozuna, Castellanos, and Marte end up costing, in hindsight at least two were obtainable within their spending parameters. Neither Ozuna or Castellanos came close to a nine-figure demand, and both were on the table when Rick Hahn pulled the trigger to trade for Nomar Mazara. If Ozuna and Castellanos easily outperform Mazara in 2020, this will be a talking point that media and fans will circle back to often.
If you remember my Offseason Plan, I had the idea for the White Sox to trade for Marte. The issue is that even though the Diamondbacks didn’t lose Top 100 prospects, both Peguero and Malone project to be average major leaguers as teenagers. FanGraphs has Andrew Vaughn as a 50-grade, and that grade seems low as FanGraphs still needs to make their 2020 update. Still, the White Sox lack any potential impact 17 to 19-year-olds that other rebuilding teams are trying to collect.
That’s why the pressure is turned up a little bit on the Director of Player Development, Chris Getz, to figure out how to get more out of the White Sox prospects. Because there are still trade opportunities that could enhance the 26-man roster for 2020. It’s just that Hahn doesn’t have the desired prospect currency currently to make an impactful trade.
Besides, it appears the team is still confident in their ability to help Nomar Mazara make the necessary adjustments to have a breakout 2020 campaign.
Talking with both Kenny Williams and Ricky Renteria was enlightening as it pertained to Nomar Mazara. Don’t look for a straight platoon system in right field. They both believe that at 24 years old Nomar best years are ahead. I spoke with Nomar and his thumb is 100%. He’s ready— Steve Stone (@stevestone) January 27, 2020
Let’s hope so.