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Slugging outfielder Nick Castellanos has exercised and opt-out in his contract with the Cincinnati Reds and now joins the pool of free agents for this offseason, Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports.

Castellanos had two years and $34 million remaining on his deal with the Reds, and that's not counting a $20 million mutual option for 2024. The right-handed power hitter, who turns 30 in early March, is coming off an impressive 2021 season for the Reds. In 138 games, Castellanos batted .309/.362/.576 (136 OPS+) with 34 home runs and 38 doubles.

Those efforts earned Castellanos his first career All-Star appearance. For his career, he owns an OPS+ of 115 across parts of nine big league seasons. Over that span, he's averaged 25 home runs and 41 doubles per 162 games played. 

Castellanos' decision may in part be a response to the Reds' front office and its stated goal of payroll retrenchment heading into 2022. In announcing the Wednesday trade that sent catcher Tucker Barnhart to the Tigers, Reds general manager Nick Krall cited what he claimed was a need to "align our payroll to our resources."

The Reds, after angling to contend over the past three seasons -- and making the expanded postseason in the abbreviated 2020 season -- now figure to enter a period of willful non-competitiveness in the NL Central. As for Castellanos, he joins a pool of free agent outfielders that includes Starling Marte, Chris Taylor, and Michael Conforto, and multi-positional names like Kris Bryant and Chris Taylor.