The defending AL East-champion Orioles have been linked in recent weeks to free agent outfielders like Norichika Aoki and Colby Rasmus, but Aoki signed with the Giants on Monday and Rasmus agreed to a deal Tuesday with the Astros. So, what now?
Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun tweets that the O’s have been “in contact this winter” with free agent Nate Schierholtz, adding that he’s someone the club has “courted” before. Connolly also says the Orioles could revisit their interest in Ichiro Suzuki, who remains without a contract for his age-41 season.
Schierholtz hit just .195/.243/.309 with seven homers and 37 RBI in 122 games last season between the Cubs and Nationals, but he had 21 homers and 68 RBI in 137 games for Chicago in 2013. He turns 31 next month.
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.