Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that the Pirates have “looked into” first baseman Mike Napoli and outfielder Shane Victorino of the Red Sox.
Napoli, 33, has had a tough year at the plate, entering Sunday’s game batting a meager .205/.301/.372 with 11 home runs and 33 RBI. He is owed the remainder of his $16 million salary and can become a free agent after the season.
Victorino, 34, has also scuffled at the plate when he hasn’t been on the disabled list. He’s hitting .245/.324/.298 with one home run and four RBI in 106 plate appearances. Victorino is owed the remainder of his $13 million salary and can also become a free agent after the season.
The second-place Pirates, at 57-41, have mostly been using Pedro Alvarez at first base. Alvarez, however, has a severe platoon split, so pairing him with Napoli would alleviate that problem. Victorino would function as a fourth outfielder.
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.