The Texas Rangers continue their interest in free agent Nick Castellanos and per reports, they sit as a finalist for the 27-year old outfielder.
The free agent rumor mill has calmed down in recent days, at least regarding the Texas Rangers. We haven’t heard much except that target Robinson Chirinos could make his decision soon and the club is a frontrunner for Marcell Ozuna. It seems things could be heating up though with Jon Morosi of MLB.com reporting that the Rangers left a strong impression on free agent Nick Castellanos in a recent meeting and “they are among the finalists to sign him”.
Texas has been connected to Castellanos throughout the offseason and he’s one of the top free agents still available. The outfielder has emerged as one of the more sought after bats in baseball and his ability saw him get traded from the Detroit Tigers to the Chicago Cubs at last year’s deadline. In 2019, Castellanos hit .289 with an .863 OPS in 151 games and saw his numbers drastically increase post-trade to the Cubs. After the deal that sent him to Chicago, Castellanos hit a stellar .321 with a 1.002 OPS and a wRC+ of 154 as he was a late season catalyst for the Cubs.
The knock on Castellanos has been and will be his defensive limitations. He started out his career as a third baseman but has exclusively played the outfield since 2018. He’s been a below average defender at every position he’s played which has killed his overall value. Still, despite the poor defensive numbers, he’s posted a 1.5 fWAR or better in four straight seasons and a 2.4 fWAR or better three of those past four.
For the Rangers, finding a defensive home for Castellanos would be a struggle. He’s been a right fielder for the past two seasons but the club seems adamant that Joey Gallo is their long-term right fielder. They could move Gallo back to center but an outfield of Calhoun, Gallo, and Castellanos wouldn’t inspire much confidence. The more likely scenario at this point seems that Texas would try to move Castellanos back to the infield at first base. If you’re signing Castellanos, it’s for his bat, but limiting his negative defensive impact is important. Ronald Guzman is the first baseman for the club but his offensive game still hasn’t developed.
The prediction from FanGraphs on Castellanos contract in free agency this season is four years, $56 million which feels close to right. It’s possible the dollars go up as free agency has been a bit inflated based on expectations but Castellanos would be a significant upgrade to the order. He’s provide middle of the order production and at only 27, he still has plenty of good years ahead of him.