10 Thoughts on Nick Castellanos’ Blockbuster Phillies Addition originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
What a difference three days and two bats can make.
The Phillies stirred up a fan base eager to see a winner by making a string of signings this week that began with relievers Brad Hand and Jeurys Familia, continued with Kyle Schwarber and culminated in the surprising addition of Nick Castellanos, who agreed Friday. at night a five-year contract and 100 million dollars.
Here are some scattered thoughts and observations on Phils’ deal with Castellanos:
It will make everyone better
Castellanos’ presence should affect the rest of the lineup in a positive way. He’s likely to protect Bryce Harper, setting up opposing pitchers and managers with the “pick your poison” kind of decision late in games, the Phillies just haven’t had much time behind Harper.
With Castellanos and Schwarber each capable of hitting 30 homers or RBIs, Harper doesn’t need to run the offense for months like he did in 2021. JT Realmuto shouldn’t be trusted as a cleanup hitter. or the second-best run producer, he can more naturally fit into a complementary offensive role. Realmuto’s strength is his overall skill set and, realistically, he’s probably more of an offensive third or fourth piece for a team with deep postseason aspirations.
Up and down the lineup, Phillies players should feel less pressure. That also includes Alec Bohm, who features in the bottom third of the lineup with less scrutiny in each AB.
Very fair price for the Phils.
The Phillies signed Schwarber and Castellanos in deals worth a combined $179 million over nine years.
Kris Bryant received a seven-year, $182 million contract from the Rockies.
Would you rather have Bryant, or both Schwarber and Castellanos for a combined $3 million less for two additional seasons?
The Phils are paying each of their new sluggers less than $20 million per season. They ended up with both without having to pay more.
The hot streaks of Castellanos
His hot streaks look different, both in length and meaning. When Castellanos is locked up, it seems that everything is a doublet well attached to the gap.
In 2021, he hit .362 in his first 250 plate appearances.
In 2020, he hit .340 with 16 RBIs and 11 extra-base hits in his first 14 games, accounting for a quarter of the season.
In 2019, he hit .312 with 37 doubles and 20 HRs in his last 85 games.
In 2018, he hit .342 in his first 55 games.
In 2017, he hit .378 from August 30 to September 3. 30
Overall the past three seasons, Castellanos has an .880 OPS with 162 game averages of 35 home runs and 50 doubles. Nothing bad.
It will be interesting to see how Joe Girardi sets up this lineup. Does Schwarber, with his combination of power and plate selection, open?
Do the Phils hit Jean Segura second to get a high batting average player with speed toward the top of the lineup, or do they hit him closer to 6 with Realmuto or Rhys Hoskins on the 2 hole?
What’s the point of splitting lefties: Schwarber, Harper, Didi Gregorius and/or Bryson Stott?
It’s worth mentioning that, for whatever reason, Harper has been far worse hitting second throughout his career than he has been batting third, fourth or leadoff. He looks like he will stay on the 3rd hole after thriving and winning an MVP there a year ago.
The luxury tax
Phillies fans had become skeptical that they would ever beat the luxury tax after several years of managing partner John Middleton saying they would for the right opportunity. This is the kind of thing you do when you have stars like Harper and Zack Wheeler in their prime and with big contracts and when you don’t have a ton of big-league-ready pieces coming from your farm system.
The Phils are about $10 million above the $230 million luxury tax. If they didn’t spend anything else between now and the end of the season, they would pay a fine of roughly $2 million. Since this would be their first year exceeding the tax, they would be subject to the lower 20% penalty. Beat it two years in a row and that goes up to 30%. Three years in a row and it’s 50%. This is relevant because the Phillies will still have a ton of money committed for 2023 and 2024, and if they progress to becoming a real contender, the spending won’t stop.
There’s no denying that this Phillies team skews the offense. On defense, they aren’t above average anywhere with the exception of Realmuto behind the plate and maybe Segura at second. Harper was impressive defensively in 2019, but less so the past two seasons as he dealt with nagging injuries, including a back problem that forced him to alter his shooting motion.
Neither Castellanos nor Schwarber are known for defense. The Phillies will likely have to fight their way to wins with one of the worst defenses in baseball and the ever-unpredictable bullpen. They’re well positioned to do it with Harper, Castellanos, Schwarber, Hoskins, Realmuto and Segura in the same lineup.
Could anyone else be on the move?
The Hoskins situation is worth monitoring. The Phillies don’t need to trade him, but they’ve added two more middle hitters, one of whom can play first base, and Hoskins hasn’t been extended yet. He is scheduled to become a free agent after 2023. Perhaps at some point, the Phillies will look to trade him for pitching. However, he would have to be the right kind of returner, a player who could help as much as Hoskins. There’s not much urgency for the Phillies to make this move, but it’s worth bearing in mind.
That’s why you bring in Dave Dombrowski
He’s spent everywhere he’s been and has leaned on veterans more than prospects. That theme has not changed here. Her history in Detroit with Castellanos probably didn’t hurt.
The Phillies lose their second-round pick for signing Castellanos because his former team, the Reds, extended him a qualifying offer.
It’s the fourth time in five years the Phillies have lost a top pick by signing a top-tier free agent. He also happened in 2018 with the signing of Jake Arrieta, in 2019 with Harper and in 2020 with Wheeler.
it better work
By quick count, 16 or 17 members of the Phillies’ projected 26-man opening-day roster were acquired through free agency or trade. This is not how most teams want to operate to build a team that sustains success.
With a $240 million payroll and an expanded playoff field, the Phillies should make the postseason in 2022. There will be no excuse unless several top players suffer long-term injuries. It has to work this season.
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