Though they didn't end up making it to October, the Chicago Cubs gave themselves a fighting chance at snagging a playoff spot when they dealt for Nicholas Castellanos at the trade deadline. He provided a much-needed spark on offense and seemed to fit right in with the team.
But apparently his heroic efforts with the lumber weren't enough to convince the team of his value. According to Ken Rosenthal, there's "not a chance" that Castellanos returns to the Cubs, and that's going to prove to be a massive mistake.
It would seem like a no-brainer that the Cubs, a team that was starved of offensive production last year, would bring back the guy who led their team in slugging percentage (.646), wOBA (.408) and wRC+ (154) after the trade, but apparently it isn't.
This is a massive misstep by Chicago's front office. The only understandable red flag about Castellanos is his defense, but his bat is more than enough to make up for that. The Cubs want to cut payroll, but this is an irresponsible way to go about it.
They have nobody who can fill the hole he's leaving. Based on their roster, his replacement is either Ian Happ or Tony Kemp, and neither of them come close to Castellanos' production.
Of course, there are other options available on the free agent market, but even the best of them were nearly as good as Castellanos was on the north side of Chicago. Marcell Ozuna's OPS, for example, was more than 200 points lower than his!
The Cubs are going to regret this move in 2020. When their outfield is struggling to produce and he's tearing the cover off of the ball with another team, they'll be kicking themselves for being so foolish.