Nick Castellanos He made it clear that he wanted to do one thing with Velez: win the playoffs.
“I’ve played over 1,000 big league games and haven’t lost any playoff wins,” Castellanos said at his opening press conference on Wednesday at BayCare Ballpark. “You know what I’m saying? Well, cool, like, I made money, I beat my teammates, I played on TV, but I didn’t win an important game. I’d like to do the who-that.”
“He’s one of the top hitters in Major League Baseball,” said Dave Dombrowski, head of baseball operations, who was the Tigers’ general manager when Detroit took charge of Castellanos in the first round of the 2010 draft. “He brings more than just a racket to the squad. With his determination, the winning atmosphere and the chemistry he brings to the club – it’s the type of individual tournament.”
Castellanos hit 0.309 with 34 home points and 100 RBIs with the Reds last season, making them his first All-Star team in his career and winning a Silver Slugger award on the field.
After Castellanos became a free agent, Dombrowski and Bryce Harper—who has the same agent, Scott Boras, and was Castellanos teammates with USA Baseball in 2009—paid Phillies owner John Middleton to bring the handyman to Philadelphia.
“I want to thank John Middleton for signing Nick, and now I’m not getting four phone calls a day for the past month from Bryce Harper,” Boras joked at the press conference.
The arrival of Castellanos, after the Phillies Already added Kyle Schwarbercould give the club its best attack since teams routinely checked into the National League under manager Charlie Manuel from 2005-11.
Dombrowski said Middleton would approach him every night asking what additional moves Velez could make to improve – and Castellanos was right there.
“I thought this bat would definitely look cute in the middle of the lineup,” Dombrowski said. “I don’t think he’s signed anywhere, or about to sign, from what I’ve read. But I know what a good player he is and how good he is at hitting and what he brings to the team.” And all of a sudden I talked about… the presence of Harper, Schwarber, Castellanos, and [Rhys] Hoskins and [J.T.] Realmuto, that’s very good.”
Castellanos can play both the outside corner spots, third base and designated hitter. It gives Phillies manager Joe Girardi more lineup variety as the Phillies intend to use their regular DH players. Girardi said Phils’ plan is to use Castellanos primarily on the left and right field and in the DH.
“The organization is committed to winning,” Castellanos said. “The opportunity to be here, to play with these guys – I’m excited to be a teammate with Price again, we won a gold medal together in Venezuela in 2009 – so there’s a lot of things to be excited about.”
“Student. Incurable problem solver. Amateur baconaholic. Introvert. Infuriatingly humble music fanatic.”