One potential reason the Red Sox reached a deal with Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo is the way the free agent market shapes up this winter, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal writes. The Red Sox needed offensive help, but the class of free agent hitters isn’t strong, and the struggles of 2013-14 free agents like Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann and Shin-Soo Choo demonstrate that you can get less than what you pay for. The pitching market is stronger, so the Red Sox have made a variety of moves to improve their 2015 offense, freeing them to pursue pitching this offseason. Here’s more on Castillo and the Red Sox.
- The Giants and Phillies were among the top contenders to sign Castillo before the Red Sox eventually signed him, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets.
- The Red Sox view Castillo as a free swinger with excellent power and speed, one evaluator tells ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes. An evaluator for another team, however, tells Edes that they see Castillo as more of a 15-20 homer player than a 30-homer player. Edes also notes that Red Sox vice president of player personnel Allard Baird was a key to Castillo’s signing. “There was no stone unturned with Allard,” says a source from within the Red Sox. “He knows everything about the kid.”
- The Castillo signing is just the latest in a long line of franchise-changing moves for the Red Sox, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald writes. The upheaval began with the 2012 trade that sent Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto to the Dodgers, and that trade may have helped give the Red Sox the financial flexibility they needed to agree to terms with Castillo.
- The Castillo deal might not work out, but given the alternatives on the free agent market, it made sense for the Sox to sign a relative unknown for a modest yearly salary, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald writes. Castillo will make far less than expensive veterans like Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford currently do, and this offseason market isn’t a strong one for hitters.
- Castillo won’t join the Red Sox’ active roster immediately after the signing becomes official, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald tweets. Unsurprisingly, they feel he’ll need time to adjust after not playing competitively for more than a year.
- Scouts like Castillo’s speed and body type, but aren’t unanimously thrilled about his hitting, ESPN’s Keith Law writes (Insider-only). Castillo could be a plus defensive outfielder, though, which means he won’t have to be a dominant offensive player to be worth $12MM per season.
- The Yankees liked Castillo as a player, but didn’t bid on him because of their issues with the luxury tax, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes (Twitter links). At a luxury tax rate of 50%, Castillo would have effectively cost the Yankees $108MM rather than $72MM.
- The Tigers were not “ever really close” to signing Castillo, GM Dave Dombrowski tells MLB Network Radio (via MLB.com’s Jason Beck). “We were basically told earlier in the week — I think first thing Monday — that we were no longer a participant,” says Dombrowski, who adds that the Tigers viewed Castillo as a good defensive center fielder with base stealing ability who might hit 15 homers per season.