The Red Sox are the “early favorite” for James Shields. We’re doing this already?

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Andy McCullough of the KC Star has a story today noting, quite correctly, that in addition to trying to pitch his Kansas City Royals into the World Series, James Shields is also auditioning for a big free agent contract after the season ends:

At 32, he figures to be the most affordable of the three. Kansas City is expected to at least attempt to retain him, even after Shields rejects a one-year, $15 million qualifying offer, but the competition in the market should be fierce. Boston has emerged as the early favorite for his services, but plenty of other clubs should be in the mix.

First a contract extension for J.J. Hardy, then a weird rumor about a Yasiel Puig trade and now we’re handicapping free agent destinations for guys who are still playing.

And you thought it was offensive that they sold pumpkin beer in July and that Macy’s has Christmas crap up already.

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.