This is the fifth of a six-part series — the AL East, AL Central, AL West, and NL East pieces have been published — in which I’m highlighting each team’s most notable free agents and how it could fill the resulting void on the roster. A player’s rank on our recently released Top 50 Free Agents list, along with Kiley McDaniel’s contract estimates from that exercise, are listed where relevant. In some cases, the team already has a capable replacement ready to step in. In others, it’s clear the team will either attempt to re-sign their player or look to the trade or free agent markets for help. The remaining cases are somewhere in between, with in-house candidates who might be the answer, but aren’t such obvious everyday players to keep the team from shopping around for better options.
Here’s a look at the National League Central.
Chicago Cubs | Depth Chart | Payroll
Nicholas Castellanos, OF
FanGraphs Top 50 Free Agent Ranking: 11
Kiley McDaniel’s contract projection: 4 years, $56M
Castellanos had been an above-average hitter for a few seasons, although his fielding has left much to be desired. But for the two months following a trade from the Tigers to the Cubs, he was the kind of hitter — 154 wRC+, 16 home runs in 225 plate appearances — whose bat could more than make up for his defensive inadequacies.
Since the Cubs were the team to witness the 27-year-old at his best, especially at Wrigley Field where he slashed .384/.412/.750 in 119 plate appearances, they would have to at least be open to bringing him back. But with the current state of the roster, that does not appear likely unless they trade Kyle Schwarber. Read the rest of this entry »