Chicago Cubs: 3 free agents who could still improve the team

(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs, Nicholas Castellanos
(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) /

Nicholas Castellanos

Let’s start with the obvious move – re-signing Nicholas Castellanos.

Last summer, the 27-year-old outfielder quickly made himself a fan favorite at Wrigley Field after arriving on the North Side just minutes before MLB’s trade deadline.

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In his short time with the Cubs (51 games), Castellanos absolutely raked. He hit .321/.356/.646 with 16 home runs and 36 RBI. Those numbers boiled down to a 154 wRC+, meaning Castellanos produced runs at a rate of 54 percent better than league average.

Castellanos’ time in Chicago was the best he’s played at any point in his career. In fact, of the 2.8 fWAR he produced in 2019, two of those wins came during his limited time in Chicago.

It’s no secret that Castellanos loved his time with the Cubs. His incredible performance at the plate and the enthusiasm he played with every single day made him a lightning rod in the lineup.

As much frustration as there’s been in the Cubs’ fanbase about the team’s lack of moves this winter, a lot of that anger would be quickly forgotten if the Cubs announced they were bringing back Castellanos next season. And here’s some good news – it might not cost a significant amount.

All offseason, Marcell Ozuna had been lumped together in the same free-agent category as Castellanos, and Ozuna recently signed a one-year, $18 million deal with the Atlanta Braves. If the Cubs can land Castellanos on a similar deal or a slightly longer one with less annual value, the team should get a nice return on their investment.

While bringing back Castellanos would raise questions about the quality of fielding in the Cubs’ outfield (Heyward playing centerfield most of the time certainly isn’t ideal), it would also add needed depth to the roster, plug in a consistent hitter near the top of the lineup, and appease a very frustrated fanbase.