|BOSTON RED SOX|
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
Signed OF-R Rusney Castillo to a seven-year deal worth $72.5 million. [8/22]
First the basics. Castillo is a 27-year-old Cuban outfielder. He defected last December, and has not played competitively since. What he has done is remake his swing and body—reportedly adding 20 pounds to his already stocky frame. Don't expect to see Castillo this season, however, because he hasn't secured a work visa or faced live pitching in a while.
Now onto the finer details. Information about Castillo had been tough to come by; few outsiders had experienced him, and those on the inside who had remained tight-lipped due to the ongoing bidding. But in the wake of Castillo's agreement with Boston, various industry sources provided Baseball Prospectus with a picture of his strengths, weaknesses, and upside.
Everyone involved praised Castillo's athleticism. One evaluator graded his speed as plus-plus—or a 70 on the 20-80 scale—and many believe he'll play a quality center field, even with an average arm. Castillo has surprising power, including pop to the opposite field, which has been aided by his work over the past year. On that note, his eagerness to improve and willingness to learn and be coached were also praised. Dave Dombrowski went public with his evaluation of Castillo and echoed many of these sentiments.
On the negative side, the sources pointed to Castillo's overly aggressive approach as the biggest cause for concern. That Castillo failed to dominate lesser competition as recent defectors have created skepticism about him being mentioned alongside the likes of Jose Abreu and Yoenis Cespedes. There's also the matter of his age—next season will mark his age-28 season, which is older than Abreu and Yoenis Cespedes were as rookies—and his ability to adjust to advanced pitching and big-league velocity. Everyone believed that the Red Sox overpaid for Castillo, who some labeled a fourth outfielder benefiting from more hype than substance.
Disagreement over players is common, of course. Consider that one team pegged Yasiel Puig as a $500,000 player when the Dodgers handed him a contract worth more than $40 million. Likewise, there wasn't unanimous praise for the Abreu or Cespedes deals when they were announced. That doesn't mean teams are infallible these days when it comes to signing Cuban players; recent failures such as Leslie Anderson, Jose Julio Ruiz, and (thus far) Alex Guerrero prove that risk remains in the market.
Still, there at least as many questions about how Castillo fits on the Red Sox as there are about his worth as a player. Ben Cherington has three largely immobile defenders on his roster already, in Allen Craig, Mike Napoli, and David Ortiz. Add in Yoenis Cespedes and the Red Sox would seem to have two outfield positions, the DH spot, and first base covered—and that's without mentioning top prospect Mookie Betts or Jackie Bradley Jr., who increasingly looks like the odd man out. The Red Sox have argued that Castillo's signing means they won't have to rush the kids. But then what else would they say at this point?
How Cherington massages that roster jam is to be seen. He could trade Bradley, bench Craig, and keep Betts in the minors until after the Super Two deadline. Or he could do none of the above, and hoard his position players in case of injuries and poor performance. The bottom line is that Castillo gives the Red Sox another potential asset at the cost of money. The Red Sox have a lot of money, and right now they have a lot of players. Beats not having enough.
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