Less than a day after Cincinnati Reds fans were rocked by the trade of two-time Gold Glove-winning catcher Tucker Barnhart to the Detroit Tigers, outfielder and 2021 MVP candidate Nick Castellanos opted out of his current Reds contract and became a free agent on Thursday morning, according to a report from MLB Network reporter Jon Heyman. The report was confirmed by WCPO in an email with Cincinnati Reds media relations director Rob Butcher.
Nick Castellanos opts out. Castellanos, 29, had .309/.362/.576 slash line this year. Had $34M and 2 years to go. Now a free agent. #reds— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 4, 2021
Castellanos, 29, hit .309 with 34 home runs and 100 RBIs. He had a .362 on-base percentage and a .576 slugging percentage. He was voted to his first All-Star team this year.
The 6-foot-4 right fielder made news across sports when he was suspended during the first series of the season against the St. Louis Cardinals. Castellanos scored on a passed ball after getting hit by a pitch. He flexed and yelled to celebrate while standing over Cardinals pitcher Jake Woodford. Castellanos swore and yelled "Let's go," which led to a confrontation with Cardinals catcher Yadi Molina. Both benches cleared. The suspension was criticized heavily by many players and fans, but the effort and Castellanos' passion vaulted him into a fan favorite of Reds fans.
Castellanos had $34 million and two years left on his contract.