Free-agent slugger Nick Castellanos has reached an agreement with the Philadelphia Phillies, reports ESPN’s Jeff Passan. The team has not yet announced the signing, but MLB Network’s Jon Heyman tweets that the deal is for five year and $100 million. Castellanos joins Kyle Schwarber in Philadelphia’s new-look lineup. The Phillies gave Schwarber a four-year contract earlier this week.
Castellanos, 30, authored a .309/.362/.576 batting line with a career-high 34 home runs last year. He opted out of the final two years and $34 million remaining on his contract with the Reds after the season. Our R.J. Anderson ranked Castellanos the No. 14 free agent on the market. Here’s his write-up:
Castellanos is a well-above-average hitter who has pole-to-pole power, an optimized launch angle, and a preference for hitting the ball back up the middle. For better and worse, that’s the extent of his game. He isn’t a good defender; he doesn’t walk a ton; and he isn’t a stolen-base threat. Castellanos can hit, though, and he’s going to get a lucrative contract because of it.
It’s clear Castellanos can hit. The bigger question is how will the Phillies align their defense? Castellanos has played right field almost exclusively the last four seasons, though he rates as a poor defender who fits best at DH. Castellanos at DH would push Schwarber into left field, and Castellanos in right field would push Bryce Harper to left (or center?).
Of course, the Phillies signed Castellanos for his bat, not his glove. They’re banking on their new-look lineup outscoring the team’s defense. Manager Joe Girardi’s regular lineup figures to look something like this in 2022:
- 2B Jean Segura
- RF Bryce Harper
- DH Nick Castellanos
- LF Kyle Schwarber
- 1B Rhys Hoskins
- C JT Realmuto
- 3B Alex Bohm
- SS Didi Gregorius
- CF Odúbel Herrera
There are still some questions to be answered on the left side of the infield and in center field, but that’s a fearsome top six that is on par with just about any other contender’s. Last season the Phillies averaged 4.53 runs per game, exactly the MLB average, and that was with Harper having an MVP season.
Phillies ownership was reportedly only willing to exceed the $230 million competitive balance tax threshold for the “right” player, and apparently Castellanos is that player. The club’s projected payroll prior to the Castellanos signing was in the $217 million range. Now that they’re over the threshold, it makes sense to continue spending and reinforce the rest of the roster. Once you’re over the threshold, you’re over. You’ve lost the benefit of staying under, so keep spending.
The Phillies went 82-80 last season and they have not been to the postseason since 2011. It is the second-longest postseason drought in baseball. With their new lineup and the expanded 12-team postseason field, Philadelphia’s chances to return to October will be as good as they’ve been in quite some time in 2022.