Astros to name Joe Espada interim manager

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In the wake of MLB suspending A.J. Hinch for one year and the Astros promptly dismissing him, the club is expected to name Joe Espada as the interim manager for the 2020 season, MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reports.

Espada, 44, coached in the minor leagues from 2007-09 before joining the Marlins in 2010. He served as their third base coach through 2013. He then became the infield coach and third base coach for the Yankees from 2015-17 before landing with the Astros in 2018 as a bench coach, the position he had held for the past two seasons.

Espada had recently been a finalist for the Cubs’ and Giants’ then-open managerial openings, but those clubs ultimately went with David Ross and Gabe Kapler, respectively. Espada had also been in the running ahead of the 2018 season for the Rangers’ and Blue Jays’ managerial positions. He has certainly been ready for a managing gig, though it must be disappointing to him to finally get it under these circumstances. Presumably, Espada will have the opportunity to have the interim tag removed if he has a good showing with the Astros in 2020.

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.