Updates from Saturday, Aug. 23
The Red Sox confirmed that Castillo had signed:
#RedSox today signed OF Rusney Castillo to a 7-year major league contract beginning in 2014 and continuing through 2020.— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) August 23, 2014
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports breaks down Castillo's contract:
Source: Castillo deal with #RedSox, once official, will allow him to opt out after 2019 season, one year before his contract expires.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) August 23, 2014
Puig, Abreu deals enable them to opt in to arbitration after 3 years service. Castillo will be first Cuban with right to opt out for FA.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) August 23, 2014
The Boston Red Sox have won the sweepstakes for Cuban defector Rusney Castillo.
Gordon Edes of ESPN has the news:
Sox agree on 7 year 72.5m deal with Castillo , joins club this season: Source— Gordon Edes (@GordonEdes) August 22, 2014
Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal had more on the deal:
Sources: Deal between #RedSox, Castillo, when finished, will be 7 yrs., $72.5M, but almost completely backloaded, with little money in ’14.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) August 22, 2014
With this structure, #RedSox will get break on average salary for luxury-tax purposes while Castillo will get record total for Cuban FA.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) August 22, 2014
Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News added more detail:
The confusion over Castillo's deal has to do with 2014. Call it 6, call it 7, he's signed through 2020. Six full seasons plus five weeks.— Mark Feinsand (@FeinsandNYDN) August 22, 2014
CBS Sports' Jon Heyman notes how this could impact bringing Jon Lester back to Boston:
One rival gm said he believes big rusney $ means red sox won't pay for lester. I think that was pretty clear even before.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) August 22, 2014
We've seen over the last few years how quickly players from Cuba are able to make an impact at the major league level. Jose Abreu, Yoenis Cespedes, Aroldis Chapman, Jose Fernandez and Yasiel Puig have all developed into stars, and they hardly needed any time in the minors.
Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald notes that there's little relationship between Castillo and another talented Cuban, fellow Red Sox outfielder Yoenis Cespedes:
Castillo, by the way, played against Cespedes in Cuba, but the two aren't particularly well-acquainted. That's about to change. #RedSox— Scott Lauber (@ScottLauber) August 22, 2014
Castillo is thought to be the newest player ready to follow that trend. According to sources cited by CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, the 27-year-old has plans of making his major league debut in 2014.
When will Castillo make his MLB debut?
Boston won't need him in order to compete for the pennant this year, but it appears they've added a major piece for 2015 and beyond. If Castillo can punish pitchers the first time around like Puig or Abreu did, he'll give this team a massive lift.
Offensively, he's not expected to provide the same kind of power as Abreu or Cespedes. However, he's a line-drive hitter who boasts lightning speed. You can see a little bit of that in the video produced by his agency, Roc Nation Sports:
Looks like Roc Nation Sports put out a new video of Rusney Castillo from his Miami showcase. Love the special effects http://t.co/6D3Q3ryxFu— Ben Badler (@BenBadler) August 13, 2014
Defensively, Castillo's most likely landing spot is in center field, although during his recruitment process there were teams that viewed him as a middle infielder. There are slight concerns about his arm, but Baseball America's Ben Badler, via MassLive.com's Jason Mastrodonato, doesn't see that as a problem:
I don’t see that as a major hitch. There aren’t a ton of center fielders that are really playing with above-average arms right now. You look at his speed, jumps and reads he gets off the bat, there’s going to be plenty of range for him to play center field.
It's difficult to project exactly how Castillo will translate to the majors, but his talent is unmistakable. At the very least, he has the speed to cause mayhem on the basepaths and cover a lot of ground in the outfield.
His upside has him drawing comparisons to reigning NL MVP Andrew McCutchen, and even if that's a stretch, it's clear John Farrell and his team just improved both the present and the future.