The Boston Red Sox have won the Rusney Castillo sweepstakes.
According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports, the highly touted Cuban prospect signed a six-year, $72.5 million deal with the Red Sox on Friday.
It is seen as a redemption signing after the Sox came close to signing White Sox first baseman and former Cuban prospect Jose Abreu last season but was outbid by Chicago. Castillo will be joining Boston this season, rather than wait out until next season to wear the Red Sox uniform.
Amongst the realization of this deal, it is eloquent in many ways. Really big.
Back on July 31, which is also known around the majors as the trade deadline, the Red Sox traded pitcher Jon Lester for Oakland A’s outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, who is also a former Cuban defect.
So what does the Boston acquisition have to do with Castillo choosing the Red Sox over teams like the Yankees, Tigers or the Phillies? A lot, actually.
Cespedes is believed to be the huge piece (or one might think) in the decision making process made by Castillo. It could not only be the reason why Boston picked up Cespedes but because bringing in caliber player similar to Castillo could draw attention to the signing. In other words, it was a good selling point for Boston that was highly successful.
Cespedes, who is under contract until the end of the 2015 season, now may have a method of persuasion to sign a possible contract extension with the Sox. The Red sox slugger is set to play left field so where does that leave Castillo?
With the Jackie Bradley Jr. experiment slim to none from ever breathing new life (even though he is considered their starting centerfielder according to MassLive.com), the speedy Cuban prospect could potentially play in centerfield.
However, it is likely Castillo will compete with Mookie Betts and Bradley Jr. for outfield candidacy.
Castillo did put up some impressive numbers while playing baseball in Cuba. He has hit over .300 in three of his last four seasons for Ciego de Avila. The 27-year old stole 68 bases on 96 attempts as well.
Rusney will have his hands full possibly competing with Bradley Jr. and Betts, who are (at least trying) major league ready and a top-tier minor league prospect in the Red Sox farm system.
One slight flaw to Castillo’s game play is his size. He stands 5’9’’ and weighs 205 pounds, although he has gained 20 pounds of muscle in the last couple months.
Given the fact Boston hasn’t steered away from players less than average size, Castillo has the skill set and tools to be at the top of the batting lineup.
If Castillo can overcome the risk of underachieving, he has All-Star and key role player written all over him. Given the prediction of what is to come in Castillo’s future in the majors, the Red Sox may be going 2-for-2 on acquiring Cuban prospect talent.
Time will be a factor in molding Castillo into a major league prone performer.
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