Nick Castellanos is baseball’s latest $100-million man. The slugging outfielder and the Phillies agreed to a five-year deal right at the $100-million mark to add Castellanos to the lineup, likely pushing also newly signed Kyle Schwarber to the DH role with the club.
The Phillies had long been rumored to be interested in Castellanos, but after the signing of Schwarber, it was thought that they would likely not be able to afford what it would cost to add another big bat to the lineup. The move helps to offset moves made by the Mets, who signed pitcher MaxScherzer and added Starling Marte and Eduardo Escobar to their lineup and the Braves, who replaced first base Freddie Freeman by trading for Oakland’s Matt Olson.
The move is also significant because it marks the first time that the Phillies have pushed their payroll over the competitive balance tax limit, which is now at $230-million for the 2022 season. Estimates put the Phillies payroll at around $240-million, but the tax is not fully computed until the end of the season.
Castellanos set a career-high with 34 home runs last season and also hit personal bests in batting average (.309), on-base percentage (.362) and slugging percentage (.576) while playing for Cincinnati. In nine MLB seasons, he has a line of 168-594-.278/.329/.486 in 1,086 games with the Tigers, Cubs and Reds. Initially, he was drafted by Detroit with the 44th overall pick in the 2010 draft out of Archbishop McCarthy High School in Florida. Castellanos finished eighth in Rookie of the Year voting in 2014 and 12th in MVP balloting last season. He also made his first all-star team and won his first Silver Slugger Award last season as the best offensive player at his position.
The Phillies outfield appears to be set with either Schwarber or Castellanos in left field, a platoon of Odubel Herrera and Matt Vierling in center field and Bryce Harper in right. Herrera was re-signed by the Phillies after he filed for free agency following the season.
Defensively, Castellanos won’t help to improve the statistics. Schwarber is also defensively challenged meaning that the two will likely share time in the field and at the DH position, which is new to the National League for the 2022 season.