The Chicago White Sox lost out on J.D. Martinez after he decided to not opt-out of his deal with the Boston Red Sox as reported first by Jeff Passan of ESPN. However, that could be for the better if they land Nicholas Castellanos.
After the signing, Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors posted a list of the top-50 free agents in which he determined where each would sign and for how much.
Given the speculation that they wanted Martinez, it’s not surprising that the team was predicted to land another top right-handed bat in Castellanos, who could fit into their need for a DH/right fielder.
Dierkes speculates that a deal for the 27-year-old would be for four years and $58 million.
That contract and the fact that Martinez, 32, is five years older than him, arguably makes him a better option long-term.
Castellanos split this season between the Detroit Tigers and Chicago Cubs in which he hit .289/.337/.525 with 27 home runs, 58 doubles, and 73 RBI to give himself a 121 OPS+ and 2.7 bWAR.
Once he got to the Cubs he really took off, as he hit .321/.356/.646 with 16 homers, 21 doubles, and 36 RBI to give himself a 156 OPS+ in that span.
Now, the likelihood is that he can’t maintain that rate of production over a full season, but if he can just produce as he did for the totality of the season, he will be a more than welcome addition to the White Sox lineup.
Defensively he improved from 2018 too. That year, Castellanos ranked among the worst outfielders in the game with -19 DRS and a -12.9 UZR in right field over 1,234 1/3 innings according to FanGraphs.
In 2019, he only had -9 DRS and a -5.2 UZR split between right and left field, with the heavy majority of those innings coming in right field (1,171 of his 1,206 2/3 innings in the field).
If that improvement defensively is a sign of things to come, he might not be purely a DH either, which could allow the team to have both him and Jose Abreu on the roster at the same time.
Martinez would have been a pure DH for the White Sox had they signed him, which would’ve forced the team to either decide between him and Abreu on the roster or force the latter to play first base almost exclusively.
Whether or not the Chicago White Sox end up pursuing Nicholas Castellanos remains to be seen, but if they sign him, J.D. Martinez staying with the Boston Red Sox could prove to be a blessing in disguise.