The season is over and the hot stove is upon us. It used to be we had to wait a while until players filed for and then signed in free agency. It doesn’t work that way anymore.
Guys whose contracts have expired immediately become free agents after the season ends (i.e. last night) and signings can begin after a short, five-day team exclusivity period. That ends on Saturday at 12:01 AM, which means you should stay up late on Friday night to see the dominoes start falling.
As for those dominoes: there are 137 of them. You can read the full list at the MLBPA page. A ton of those are subject to team or player options that will be exercised between now and midnight Friday, but they are all players who, theoretically, could switch teams.
The biggies, obviously, include Josh Hamilton, Zack Greinke, Michael Bourn and, of course, Ryan Theriot, who guarantees a World Series championship, apparently.
The Cincinnati Reds have signed outfielder Nicholas Castellanos to a four-year deal worth $64 million. The contract includes opt-outs after both 2020 and 2021, which is certainly good for Castellanos, allowing him to go back out on the market if he has a big year. Odd that the Reds would agree to that, but on an annual basis it’s kind of a bargain for them so you figure that has something to do with it.
With Castellanos in the fold the Reds are going to have a lot of outfielders when they hit Goodyear, Arizona in a couple of weeks, with newcomer Shogo Akiyama, Jesse Winkler, Nick Senzel, Aristides Aquino, Travis Jankowski, Scott Schebler, and Rule 5 draftee Mark Payton already on the roster. Senzel was an infielder before last year, of course, so he could move back to the dirt, perhaps taking over short from Freddy Galvis, who could be dealt. Alternatively, the Reds could trade from their newfound outfield surplus.
Castellanos, however, will have left field to himself. While he’s shaky at best with the glove, he had a breakout year at the plate in 2019, hitting .289/.337/.525 overall (OPS+ 121), but slugging at a blistering .321/.356/.646 pace (OPS+ 151) after being traded from the Tigers to the Cubs. In Chicago — rescued from cavernous Comerica Park — his big doubles power turned into big homer power.
Now that he’ll be playing in hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark one can only imagine the damage he’d do.