As a number of marquee free agents have come off the board quickly this offseason, things have remained relatively quiet around Nicholas Castellanos.
There has been some talk about the chances he returns to the Cubs, but even the rumors around that have gone back and forth. It went from Jon Morosi reporting that the Cubs were “still persuing” Castellanos to Ken Rosenthal saying there’s “not a chance, at least for the moment” that Castellanos returns to the Cubs. Jon Heyman then took a less aggressive view of Rosenthal’s report.
If we cut through the noise there appears to be a few major facts in play:
The Cubs would rather have Castellanos back than not.
The Cubs are trying to cut payroll to get under the luxury tax first.
Now, it seems Castellanos shares interest in returning to the Cubs.
That’s what a report from Sahadev Sharma on The Athletic said. The Cubs still have to clear payroll, but if there’s a way to make it happen, the Cubs are likely trying to figure that out.
There are plenty of suitors for Castellanos. The Giants were reportedly the highest bidder as of the Winter Meetings. The Rangers have also been in talks with Castellanos’ agent, Scott Boras. The Diamondbacks and Reds have also been mentioned, and there are probably more teams than that involved.
Mutual interest from the Cubs and Castellanos isn’t a surprise. Just look at some of the things they said about each other.
"Man, I love everything about Nick Castellanos," Theo Epstein said after the season. "What a job he did coming in. I don't think you can ask more of an in-season trade acquisition than what he did. The production, the consistency, the dynamic at-bats that he had and then the way he went about it — just with a lot of passion, a lot of professionalism, a lot of hard work, a team-oriented approach. Really became invested in the Cubs and his teammates in a short period of time.”
"I love the fans here," Castellanos said during the last weekend of the season. "Being able to walk to and from the park, just seeing how much they genuinely love the Cubs. Winning by 10 or losing by 10 — they're in it and they're focused and they love their Cubs and I think that it's awesome. It's great. It's pure and it was a lot of fun to be a part of it."
For now, it doesn’t look like the Cubs have the payroll flexibility to offer Castellanos a significant deal, but it’s possible he'll wait to see if they can find the money.
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