It’s that time of the year, folks — when one pitch can help make or break your post-season fate. The Pirates seemed well on their way to a 2-0 loss at the hands of the NL Wild Card-rival Brewers until catcher Russell Martin crushed a go-ahead three-run home run in the bottom of the eighth against Jonathan Broxton. The Pirates tacked on one more run and went on to win 4-2.
With the win, the Pirates maintained their two-game deficit behind the St. Louis Cardinals and widened their lead over the Brewers for the second Wild Card to 4.5 games.
Watch Martin’s blast:
[mlbvideo id=”36407349″ width=”600″ height=”336″ /]
Martin, who is eligible for free agency after the season, leads the majors (min. 400 PA) with a .406 on-base percentage, and has 11 home runs overall with 66 RBI. The 31-year-old certainly seems destined for a payday in the off-season.
Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports that the Reds “have emerged as the frontrunner” to sign free agent outfielder Nicholas Castellanos. Morosi says the Reds and Castellanos “have made progress over the past several days.”
The Reds were going to have a lot of outfielders already 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. Senzel was an infielder before last year, of course, so he could move back to the dirt, perhaps. And, of course, the Reds could trade from their outfield surplus if, indeed, they end up with an outfield surplus.
Without question, however, Castellanos would be the big dog, at least offensively, in that setup. 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. If he were to sign to play half his season in hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark one can only imagine the damage he’d do.