Updates at the bottom. The deal is done.
While the Mets and Braves continue to suck up all the offseason oxygen in the NL East, the Phillies are quietly going about their business with a solid offseason of their own. Most recently, that includes deals for Brad Hand, Jeurys Familiar, Odubel Herrera, former Cubs reliever Dillon Maples, and most notably, free agent outfielder Kyle Schwarber. But their biggest signing of the offseason could yet be ahead of them.
According to rumors that began last night and continued into this morning, the Phillies are in “serious pursuit” of free agent outfielder Nick Castellanos and talks are now “progressing.”
#Phillies and free agent Nick Castellanos "progressing" in talks on a contract, source confirms. Credit to @jaysonst for reporting on the Phillies' "serious pursuit" of Castellanos earlier this morning. @MLBNetwork @MLB
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) March 18, 2022
We got into this rumor a bit already this morning, and I land in the same place: Although it’ll probably be a little difficult for the Phillies to accommodate two borderline-DH caliber gloves in Schwarber and Castellanos, with Bryce Harper already parked in one of the outfield corners, plus Alec Bohm and Rhys Hoskins in the picture, the offensive upside may be too attractive to pass up. That’s four legit bats, and another (Bohm) with plenty of upside, PLUS J.T. Realmuto, who’s just a consistent offensive performer.
2022 ZiPS Projections:
Harper: 146 wRC+, 17.1 BB%, 23.5 K% (L)
Schwarber: 135 wRC+, 13.3 BB%, 27 K% (L)
Hoskins: 125 wRC+, 13.4 BB%, 24.5 K% (R)
Castellanos: 124 wRC+, 6.6 BB%, 21.2 K% (R)
The addition of Castellanos would provide another righty bat to this already monstrous heart of the order; one with a more contact-oriented approach that compliments the high power/OBP trio ahead of him. This would be a pretty baller move for Philadelphia, and I kinda hope they do it.
Ope. And just like clockwork, before I was able to click publish the Not so fast rumors have reemerged: According to Jon Heyman, the Phillies are, indeed, trying hard for Castellanos, but the Red Sox, Padres, and Marlins (I’ll believe the latter when I see it) are still in pursuit.
We do know the Padres have been trying to land an outfielder/big bat all winter, and have recently missed out on Seiya Suzuki and Kris Bryant, as well as Freddie Freeman. So I wouldn’t be surprised if they were serious about Castellanos (especially after reports of their recent connection to Jorge Soler and Luke Voit). But they’ll have to shed salary via trade before they can add Castellanos.
UPDATE (10:15am CT): Reports and updates are kinda flying quickly now, with rumors directly out of Philadelphia that make it sounds close …
Confirming @jaysonst report. Phillies are on Nick Castellanos. Phillies owner John Middleton has consistently said team would go over tax for right opportunity. This might be it. Stay tuned
— Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyNBCS) March 18, 2022
And still others from Jon Heyman (he seems to be the lone voice on this one), still suggesting many teams are involved:
Philly and Miami are thought among the leaders for Nick Castellanos at the moment but the situation appears fluid and there are about 5-6 teams still involved. Had .939 OPS last year.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) March 18, 2022
UPDATE (10:23 am CT): Okay, yeah, sorry, Jon. But I do not buy this. At all.
Some surprise teams are showing interest in Castellanos. One of those is his old team, the Reds, who seemed to be in steep sell mode. They do have needs but with contenders in the mix, that would seem like a long shot. Philly, others presumably much more likely.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) March 18, 2022
UPDATE (10:40pm CT): The deal is done. According to Jon Heyman, it’s a neat $100 million spread out over five years. That’s a good deal for Castellanos. It’ll take him through his age-34 season, while beating the always-desirable $20M AAV (maybe I just really like round numbers, I don’t know). The Phillies defense might be brutal, but that’s a very impressive lineup. The NL East could be a wild one this year.
Castellanos gets $100M for 5 years from Phils
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) March 19, 2022
I also now wonder if a deal for free agent Jorge Soler will soon shake loose. The Phillies took his two most reasonable (but more attractive) alternatives off the market, so there probably should be an outfield/DH needy team out there somewhere. Of course, the Padres would be the obvious answer, but they just traded for Luke Voit today, without trading Wil Myers or Eric Hosmer (yet), so I’m not quite sure they’re going to be the ones.