Nick Castellanos had the best season of his career in 2021, posting a .309/.362/.576 slash line along with a 140 wRC+ and 4.2 fWAR. His slugging percentage ranked third in the National League, behind only NL MVP Bryce Harper and Fernando Tatis Jr.
It should come as no surprise that the 29-year-old right fielder opted out of his contract with the Cincinnati Reds with two years and $34 million left on his deal to become a free agent.
The Reds likely can't afford to re-sign him. In November, general manager Nick Krall told reporters he needed to "align our payroll to our resources" moving forward.
Whenever the MLB lockout ends, Castellanos should be in high demand. Here's a look at his potential landing spots, ranked by fit, team need and willingness to spend.
10. Cleveland Guardians
The Cleveland Guardians did not address their biggest need before the lockout: offense. They ranked 21st in MLB in OPS last year.
Signing Castellanos would upgrade the Guardians offensively and at right field, where they could desperately use him. The Guardians just broke their streak of eight consecutive winning seasons in 2021, and Castellanos could help get them back there.
The question is how much they're willing to spend. Castellanos and agent Scott Boras are reportedly seeking a contract in the seven- to eight-year range, according to Mark Feinsand of MLB Network. But Cleveland has never handed out a free-agent deal higher than Edwin Encarnacion's three-year, $60 million contract in 2016.
It would likely take an unprecedented move by this franchise to land Castellanos.
9. Toronto Blue Jays
The Toronto Blue Jays' priority going into this offseason was replacing AL Cy Young winner Robbie Ray and infielder Marcus Semien, both of whom signed elsewhere in free agency.
The Blue Jays signed pitcher Kevin Gausman to a five-year, $110 million deal before the lockout. They should also prioritize extensions for Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Teoscar Hernandez.
Still, the Blue Jays could play Castellanos in right field and as designated hitter. His bat would punctuate an offense which already had MLB's highest OPS and the most home runs.
There have been no serious reports linking Castellanos to Toronto, but he is a viable fit for a team that figures to compete for the next few years.