The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that free agent starter Zack Wheeler has already received at least one $100 million contract offer and is expected to eventually command a deal of at least five years in the nine figures. Rosenthal adds that the White Sox, Twins, Reds, Rangers, and Blue Jays are known to be in pursuit of the right-hander.
Wheeler, 29, has had back-to-back healthy seasons after missing all of 2015-16 as well as having an abbreviated ’17 campaign due to injuries. This past season, Wheeler posted a 3.96 ERA with 195 strikeouts and 50 walks across 195 1/3 innings.
Wheeler is ranked behind Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg among prized free agent right-handed starting pitchers. Cole and Strasburg are expected to land contracts well into the $200 million range, besting the seven-year, $217 million contract David Price signed with the Red Sox in December 2015.
The Cincinnati Reds have signed outfielder Nicholas Castellanos to a multi-year deal. That’s the report from C. Trent Rosecrans and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Jon Morosi of MLB.com was the first to report the Reds as frontrunners. The deal is pending a physical. UPDATE: The deal is four years. Financial terms have yet to be reported.
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.