The offseason is still a few months away, and major signings might take a while after that, what with the looming CBA battle coming to a head on December 1. But Sahadev Sharma nevertheless knows exactly how to make Cubs fans smile, even after that Trade Deadline, with thoughts of the offseason ahead.
Please come back, Nick Castellanos:
Why a Cubs return for Nick Castellanos may be the best way to kickstart the rebuild https://t.co/WgWDgvsEqT
— Sahadev Sharma (@sahadevsharma) August 5, 2021
Castellanos, for his part, is obviously not going to focus on, much less discuss, his opt-out while the Reds are trying to make the postseason. But it’s going to be a major storyline in the early part of the offseason, especially if the Cubs do intend to pursue a guy who is seemingly so perfect for the lineup’s (and fan bases’s) needs, as Sharma writes.
We recently discussed the opt-out in the context of Castellanos’s All-Star Game comments about his original trade to the Cubs, which marked a turning point for him. He told The Athletic, among other things, “Getting traded to Chicago and all of a sudden being in a place where winning was important and the fans were 100 percent behind us and rooting for us, that was like playing a brand new game.”
Among my responses at the time, as related to the opt-out and the fit with the Cubs:
So will any of that still matter this offseason? Well, again, it depends on whether Castellanos actually opts out (he’s otherwise owed $34 million over the next two years (or $52 million over the next three), so I think an opt out is highly likely), and whether he still feels good about coming to the Cubs.
For their part, the question is whether the Cubs are even looking to sign a guy like Castellanos at this time. The defense in the corner outfield spots (especially at Wrigley Field) would be dodgy, but NL teams are highly likely to have the DH available in 2022 and beyond. Castellanos figures to be attached to a qualifying offer, which is a consideration, though the Cubs are not over the luxury tax – and will likely have their own qualifying-offer-generated picks going in the other direction – so the pain from signing a qualified free agent will go down. Financially, the money should be there for signings of Castellanos’s caliber.
Even if you set aside any of the emotional/fan/energy stuff, here’s the reality about Castellanos, which was true in 2019 and is still true now: he’s a high-swing-rate, low-strikeout-rate, extreme-line-drive guy, who brings a very different type of bat to this Cubs lineup. There are reasons to want the Cubs to make this type of move no matter what, especially if they are not engaging in the kind of rebuild that they affirmatively want to lose in 2022. You have the opportunity to get a guy like Castellanos only when he’s available, and the Cubs are lucky he’s likely to be available again.
Soooooo, yeah. I’ll be pushing for this. Always would’ve been. Nice to see Sharma discussing the topic – give it a read – and we’ll dig in more deeply on Castellanos as the offseason approaches.