MLB Free Agency

Cubs free agent Nick Castellanos agrees to deal with Reds

Cubs free agent Nick Castellanos agrees to deal with Reds

Yesterday, it was reported that the Reds were the favorite to ink Cubs free agent right fielder Nick Castellanos. On Monday, those two sides reached an agreement on a multi-year deal. 

Given the Cubs' desire to steer clear of the luxury tax in 2020, the odds of a reunion with Castellanos were always low. The club's recent signing of outfielder Steven Souza only furthered that belief.

To lose him to a divison rival, though, undoubtedly stings, especially considering the gumption with which the Reds have approached the offseason. Cincinnati has also notably added Mike Moustakas, Shogo Akiyama and Wade Miley this winter.

MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported the deal includes at least one opt-out.

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White Sox still connected to top free-agent pitchers Dallas Keuchel and Hyun-Jin Ryu

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USA TODAY

White Sox still connected to top free-agent pitchers Dallas Keuchel and Hyun-Jin Ryu

Though the White Sox did not bring home any of the headliners from the current MLB free-agent class—many of whom they weren't realistically signing for a myriad of reasons anyway, players like Gerrit Cole and Anthony Rendon—they made some major moves that set them up quite well to build momentum as they continue to put what will hopefully be the finishing touches of a rebuild. The South Siders signed Yasmani Grandal to the richest contract in team history, swung a trade for high-upside, left-handed hitter Nomar Mazara, and most recently added some much-needed pitching depth with the addition of Gio Gonzalez. But for White Sox fans fearing that the organization was done adding talent, it appears they may not be done just yet. 

Even after signing Gio Gonzalez, new MLB rumors have linked the White Sox to two Scott Boras clients, pitchers Dallas Keuchel and Hyun-Jin Ryu.

Boras has been on-the-go lately, flying around the country to be in-person to support his clients at their introductory press conferences but he hasn't forgotten about the plethora of teams in need of rotation help, like the White Sox

Last season the 32-year old Ryu started 29 games for the Los Angeles Dodgers, going 14-5 with a 2.32 ERA and a career-best 5.1 WAR.

Dallas Keuchel was a free agent last season after being with the Houston Astros since 2012 and eventually was signed late into the season—after compensation requirements connected to the Astros' qualifying offer dissolved— by the Atlanta Braves. Over 19 starts the 31-year Keuchel went 8-8 with a 3.75 ERA and a 2.1 WAR.

If the White Sox add either of the two top pitching names left on the market in Ryu or Keuchel, they will join an already promising rotation that includes the aforementioned Gonzalez, high-upside youngsters Michael Kopech and Dylan Cease, and All-Star Lucas Giolito. 

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Stephen Strasburg has reportedly opted out of the final four years of his contract with the Washington Nationals

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USA Today

Stephen Strasburg has reportedly opted out of the final four years of his contract with the Washington Nationals

In the wake of being named the MVP of the 2019 World Series, Stephen Strasburg has reportedly opted out of the final four years and $100 million of his contract with the Nationals, per MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand. The report was later confirmed by NBC Sports Washington's Todd Dybas.

So, let the games begin, right? It’s logical that the White Sox — potentially in need of a front-line starter to pair with Lucas Giolito — would have interest in Strasburg, especially given that the South Siders have been linked to Gerrit Cole, the presumptive top earner of the impending free agent pool, often in recent weeks.

But let’s pump the brakes on all that for a minute. For one thing, Strasburg opting out doesn’t necessarily telegraph him departing the nation’s capital. The Nationals just completed a championship run of epic proportions, a run in which they went toe-to-toe with the two best regular season teams in baseball and came out on top, coming from behind to win four elimination games along the way. This move is undoubtedly motivated by Strasburg’s desire to capitalize (monetarily) on the momentum he built up this postseason, rather than trying to force his way out of the city where he’s played his entire career.

The Nationals thus enter the sweepstakes for Strasburg’s services as the tentative favorites, but the 31-year-old made himself a lot of money this postseason. The contract he’s opting out of, after all, was originally worth $175 million over seven years when he re-upped with the Nats back in 2017. Leaving the final four years of that pact on the table implies an expectation that the deal he ultimately signs will be of comparable length with a higher average annual value. 

The Nationals, meanwhile, committed $140 million to Patrick Corbin last offseason and are preparing for a negotiation with third baseman Anthony Rendon that would likely end with a contract north of $200 million in total value. Whether those factors impact the amount of money they’re willing to shell out remains to be seen.

One thing that’s not in doubt is that after going 5-0 with a 1.98 ERA, 47 strikeouts and only four walks over 36.1 innings this postseason, Strasburg shouldn’t have trouble finding a contract that suits him. The market for his services will be fierce, with the typical big players — the Yankees, Phillies, Angels, etc. — all sure to be involved.

The White Sox could jump into that fray, as well, if they’re willing to spend. The team has a number of roster holes to look at this winter and Rick Hahn has said the organization is intent on taking the next step. The transcendence of Strasburg is undeniable. As a proven performer in the highest of high-leverage situations, he’d be indispensable for any team, but especially for one looking to make that aforementioned leap to contender status.

Now, we wait, as the hot stove simmers. 

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