The White Sox, Nationals, Tigers, Blue Jays, Dodgers, Pirates, Rangers, and Royals have all announced that they plan to extend the protective netting at their ballparks. Add another team to that list: the Astros will be doing so at Minute Maid Park.
Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports that all of the current netting will be replaced with “knotless netting,” which will allow for an improved viewing experience. The netting will also be extended further down lines.
Just as the first push for expanded netting came as the result of a follow-the-leader approach, at which point critical mass was reached and all 30 teams did it, I suspect that, by Opening Day 2020, all 30 teams will have once again expanded their netting by virtue of the leaders on the matter setting a new defacto standard of care in the industry.
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.