Nick Castellanos is carrying the Cubs ahead of a polarizing free agency

The photo adds a wave of nausea to the euphoria that Cubs fans have felt over Nick Castellanos.

ESPN reporter Jesse Rogers took the shot before the Cubs played the Padres in San Diego on Tuesday of Castellanos surrounded by super-agent Scott Boras and other representatives.

Castellanos, who is a free agent this offseason, was not the biggest name that moved at the July 31 trade deadline, but he has perhaps had the biggest impact. Castellanos is hitting .335 with 14 home runs in 37 games since joining the Cubs from the Tigers, the team he played the first six years of his career with.

“When I got traded to the Cubs it was like I was called up to the big leagues,” Castellanos told USA Today recently. “I’m waking up excited to compete every day playing for something. It sucks when you’re 28 games out, and its June 4. There’s no way around that.”

Castellanos, 27, has helped the Cubs stay ahead in the wild-card standings, though a recent run of four losses in five games has a gaggle of teams — including the Mets — sneaking closer.

“I haven’t thought about giving him a day off,”  Cubs manager Joe Maddon said recently. “because when I talk to him, he’s the same dude every day. I don’t know if he sleeps or not, but he’s absolutely the same person. He’s always energetic, his conversations are always upbeat, he’s never morose about anything—I mean this is just who this guy is. He likes to play and I don’t see a stitch of fatigue right now.”

Nick Castellanos
Nick CastellanosGetty Images

It could be a brief run in Chicago, though, with free agency looming.

Castellanos has raised his profile these past five weeks and could be one of the more pricier players in free agency. But he is painfully aware of the cooling of the hot stove as top players — led by Manny Machado and Bryce Harper — had to wait well into the offseason before finding a new team.

The outfielder is not the ideal player in the analytics-driven sport. His defensive play and baserunning devalues his offensive clout and his walk rate is below average.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty right now with the relationship between ownership and players, just the way that we’re being evaluated,” Castellanos told USA Today. “It’s something I can’t control. But being in a position where I’m wanted, all I have to worry about is winning and trying to help influence the guys around me.

“The rest of it is business, man. And business is an adult’s game. And usually if you’re playing an adult’s game long enough, you get lawyers involved and people get pissed off. But I’m not an owner. I’m not a GM. I’m just a ballplayer.’’

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