Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer reports that second baseman Jason Kipnis is open to discussing a contract extension with the Indians. The two sides will likely begin talking during spring training. Kipnis, however, does not want contract talks to distract him during the regular season, as MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian writes.
Kipnis, who turns 27 years old on April 3, will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the season. He can become a free agent after the 2017 season. An extension would likely buy out at least two of the years leading up to the second baseman’s free agency.
Since the beginning of the 2012 season, Kipnis has been the fifth-most valuable second baseman in the game (min. 1,000 plate appearances), according to FanGraphs WAR. He trails Robinson Cano, Ben Zobrist, Dustin Pedroia, and Matt Carpenter while narrowly outranking Aaron Hill.
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.