Orioles “pushing to complete” extension with Nelson Cruz

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Baltimore got an incredible bargain by signing Nelson Cruz to a one-year, $8 million contract and now Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Orioles are “pushing to complete” an extension with the 33-year-old impending free agent.

Cruz’s price tag dropped because he was coming off a suspension last season and had draft pick compensation attached to his free agency. So the Orioles picked him up on the cheap and watched as he led the league with 40 homers and hit .271 with an .859 OPS that topped his career mark by 35 points.

Rosenthal reported earlier today that the Orioles were on the verge of signing impending free agent shortstop J.J. Hardy to a three-year extension worth at least $40 million, so apparently Baltimore’s front office is really taking advantage of the down time between the end of the ALDS and the start of the ALCS.

Reds are the frontrunner for Nicholas Castellanos

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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.