Though none of this will have a direct impact on the Cubs (yet), it might be a good idea to track the players involved in option decisions for 2022. That could mean an old foe will no longer be with a rival team or that a constant nemesis will return to post half of his homers for the season in just a handful of games against the Cubs. It could even mean someone worthwhile is back on the market.
We’ll keep this updated over the next few days as these decisions come due.
Nick Castellanos opts out
Still a fan favorite from his time in Chicago following a last-second deadline deal in 2019, Castellanos chose to opt out of the remaining two years and $34 million of his deal in Cincinnati. The outfielder had an opt-out clause following his first season there in 2020, but came back after disappointing production stifled his value a bit.
Castellanos bounced back in a big way to hit .309/.362/.576, mashing a career-high 34 home runs and adding 38 doubles to post a 140 wRC+ on the year. That latter mark is easily the best of his career and it’s only 12 points below what he did with the Cubs over just two months.
Turning 30 in March will keep him from getting a monster deal of 10 years or anything like that, but Big Stick Nick is a consistent offensive performer who will be in serious demand. The big knock on Castellanos has been his defense, which won’t be much of an issue if the new CBA includes the universal DH. However, that value-add will be largely offset by qualifying offer penalties.
There still appears to be mutual interest between Castellanos and the Cubs, it’s just a matter of whether the front office can swallow the loss of a high second-round pick and $500K in international bonus money. Plus, what if they’re really interested in one of the market’s top shortstops, which would mean additional penalties?
Andrew Chafin declines option
The lefty reliever turned down his $5.25 million mutual option with the Athletics and will take a $500K buyout to become a free agent. Oakland appears to be going cheap in an even bigger way than usual, going so far as to let former manager Bob Melvin join the Padres sans compensation. Like Castellanos, Chafin quickly endeared himself to Cubs fans and seemed to truly enjoy his time in Chicago.
He won’t have a qualifying offer attached, which is good, but he’s probably looking for multiple years and might not be the best fit for the Cubs unless they’re serious about turning things around quickly. I’ll say this: Having The Sherriff and Nicky Two Bags both back in Chicago would be a genius stroke of much-needed PR.
Avisaíl García declines option
García had a $12 million mutual option to return to the Brewers, but just concluded one of the best seasons of his career and will look for a longer commitment as he heads into his age-31 season. This weakens a Brewers lineup that really needs a lot of work, making the Cubs’ task just a little less daunting.
Matt Carpenter, Carlos Martinez have options declined
Though no longer the fearsome a duo they once were, these two terrorized the Cubs off and on for several years. Decreasing performance meant there was no way St. Louis was going to pay $18.5 million for Carpenter or $17 million for Martinez. This actually hurts the Cubs because the Cards will inevitably replace them with much better players no one has ever heard of.
More to come…