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Marlins to move fences in at Marlins Park

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The Marlins announced on Wednesday two new changes to Marlins Park for the 2020 season: a synthetic grass surface will be installed, and the center and right-center field fences will be moved in towards home plate. The straightaway center field fence will be 400 feet from home plate, down from 407. The right-center field fence will be 387 feet from home plate, down from 392.

Marlins Park has long been one of baseball’s most pitcher-friendly ballparks, particularly for right-handed hitters when it came to hitting for power. According to StatCorner, the home run park factors for left- and right-handed hitters last year were 85 and 74, respectively. 100 is set as the average. By comparison, the Padres’ Petco Park had respective home run park factors of 89 and 93.

While it is understandable why the Marlins would want to move the fences in, we are coming off of the most home run-happy season in baseball history. 2017’s single-season record of 6,105 homers was obliterated with the 6,776 dingers hit this past season, thanks in large part to changes in the baseball.

We are also in an unprecedented era of “three true outcome” baseball — walks, strikeouts, and homers. Ballparks with bigger dimensions allow for more opportunities for doubles and triples, which leads to more exciting baseball games. So it is a bit disappointing to see Marlins Park shrinking and becoming more generic.

Reds sign Nicholas Castellanos to a four-year deal

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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.