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“Last offseason, our informal motto was, ‘Get the pitching,’” Williams said. “This year, our goal internally was to get hitting and balance the team. That was our quest. Nick hits the ball hard. He hits it on a line. He hits to all fields, and when he does hit, he runs the bases well. He strengthens and lengthens our lineup significantly.”
The right-handed batter hit .289 with 58 doubles, 27 homers, 88 extra-base hits and 100 runs scored – all career highs. He led the majors in doubles and drove in 73 runs.
Castellanos became only the third right-handed batter in major league history to produce in a season at least 55 doubles and 25 HR, joining Hall of Famers Hank Greenberg (1934) and Joe Medwick (1937). He made 136 starts in right field and four starts in left field.
His 229 doubles beginning with the 2014 season tie Mookie Betts of the Boston Red Sox for the most of any player in the major leagues over the last six years, and his 104 doubles in 2018 and 2019 led all major league players.
“This has been kind of surreal,” said Castellanos, who played in Detroit’s farm system with Reds third baseman Eugenio Suarez. “I’m excited. I like the team we’ve put together.”
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Castellanos has hit four home runs, all solo shots, in eight games at Great American Ball Park, including three homers in four games while going 6-for-17 (353) last season.
“Some places you feel good, other places not so good,” he said. “I feel good swinging the bat in this ballpark. I’m excited to be playing 81 games at this ballpark.
To make room for Castellanos on the roster, Cincinnati designated former Dayton Dragon outfielder Jose Siri for assignment.
Adding Castellanos and Akiyama leaves the Reds with at least six outfielders vying for playing time. Akiyama is primarily a center fielder, which was manned mostly by Nick Senzel last season before he ended the season on the injured list. Castellanos, a corner outfielder, joins Aristides Aquino, Phillip Ervin and Jesse Winker in that corps.
“From a roster-construction standpoint, our goal this year is to win a championship,” Williams said. “To do that, you have to be deep. It was important to load as much quality as possible on to the 25-man roster – really, the 40-man roster. Some people say we made David Bell’s job harder. Other say we made it easier.”
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“It is a great challenge,” Bell agreed. “We’ll find a way to get them into the lineup. It’s like a dream come true. It’s the kind of situation you want to be in. The timing is outstanding for us.”
Castellanos’s contract, which includes a $20 million option for 2024 with a $2 million buyout and clauses allowing him to leave after the 2020 or 2021 seasons, ties the franchise record for the largest free agent signing, set when Cincinnati acquired Moustakas in November to play second base. Akiyama’s three-year, $21 million contract and left-handed pitcher Wade Miley’s two-year, $15 million deal means Cincinnati has committed an unprecedented $164 million to free agents this off-season.
“Four significant free-agent signings, two club records for the biggest free-agent signings in franchise history – you don’t do that without strong support from your ownership group,” Williams said.