Hey, here’s a fun follow-up to today’s discussion about Nick Castellanos still fitting on an NL team that has confidence the DH is coming in a couple years.
Whether the Cubs have such a belief or not, we know that they’ve always had interest in a reunion with Castellanos, who made it very clear that he dug his time on the North Side. Absent an immediate DH, however, the fit remains tricky – the Cubs prefer to keep Jason Heyward in right field and Kyle Schwarber in left field, so where does Castellanos go?
We’ll get to keep wondering and debating about that very thing, per Jon Morosi’s latest: the Cubs are “still pursuing” Castellanos. In a separate article – noting the Giants’ interest in Castellanos – Morosi describes the Cubs as having “ongoing interest in bringing back” Castellanos. Suffice to say: Morosi is reporting the Cubs are still into Castellanos.
Even as the positional fit is tricky and the defensive questions are very legit, it’s just so hard not to want that bat and that energy and that hunger back on the Cubs’ roster in 2020. How heavy is the pursuit, though? I kinda figure, for now, it’s gotta be either a matter of the Cubs pursuing Castellanos as a “if this and that and this and that happen first, we’re in,” or it’s them wanting to maintain communications in case his market doesn’t explode.
But hey, it’s certainly possible that the talk about Heyward’s position and Schwarber’s bat are smokescreens to preserve the Cubs’ flexibility in pursuing Castellanos.
What about the financial side of things? As I’ve explored, the comps for Castellanos are super difficult to peg – primarily because of his young age and questionable defense – but you could see his side making that big five-year, $100 million argument. And you could see teams making a credible argument for as low as three years and $45 million. The Cubs are keeping their ability to spend under wraps, but it’s fair to say it’s unclear how much they’re willing to commit right now in new money … and it’s also unclear how much payroll they will otherwise clear in trades.
In his two months with the Cubs, Castellanos posted an absurd .321/.356/.646 line with a 154 wRC+ and an impressive 2.0 WAR. His alley-to-alley approach and line drive stroke played so well at Wrigley Field and in this Cubs lineup, and the energy attached to FINALLY being on a competitive team clearly paid dividends in his performance.
Could you reasonably project that guy for his age 28, 29, 30, and 31 seasons? Nah, that’s too lofty to project at the plate. But is it perfectly plausible that he could settle in at where he was in 2018 (.298/.354/.500, 130 wRC+) and maybe play up a bit at Wrigley Field? Yeah, it’s plausible. And it comes with a lotta line drives, a contact rate around average, a strikeout rate a bit below average – all things the Cubs could use.