Red Sox Sign Rusney Castillo

The Red Sox have announced the signing of Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to a seven-year contract potentially worth $72.5MM, assuming that Castillo does not opt out of the contract before 2020.

Castillo will receive $100K in salary for 2014, but with a $5.4MM signing bonus. He will then receive $10.5MM per season from 2015 through 2017, then $11MM in 2018 and 2019. He will then have the ability to opt out of the deal or to take a $13.5MM salary for 2020. The deal also contains a limited no-trade clause.

Rusney CastilloThe 27-year-old Castillo’s name has generated increasing interest over the past several weeks, but Boston’s agreement with the Roc Nation Sports client is significantly larger than most had figured. Previous reports indicated that Castillo could land a five-year deal valued somewhere between $50MM and $60MM, but this contract will eclipse Jose Abreu‘s six-year, $68MM pact with the White Sox for the largest contract ever issued to a Cuban free agent.

Castillo, who also drew interest from the Tigers, Giants, Phillies, Yankees, Cubs and Mariners, held a showcase for scouts earlier this month. Scouts from 28 of the 30 Major League teams were apparently on hand, and the general consensus was that Castillo was a highly impressive talent who was capable of helping a Major League club in 2014.

Ben Badler of Baseball America’s most recent scouting reports cite Castillo’s 70-grade speed as his best tool, but scouts at his showcase noted that he had surprising power and an average throwing arm in the outfield, leading many to believe him capable of becoming a five-tool center fielder. Some have compared him to a more powerful version of Brett Gardner, though that is a best-case scenario outcome.

Many expected Castillo to sign with a contending team because of his proximity to the Major Leagues, but Castillo instead will be the second significant 2015 piece that Boston GM Ben Cherington has added during the 2014 season. Though the Red Sox are in last place, they’ve added Castillo and countryman Yoenis Cespedes to the fold, each of whom was acquired with the intention of helping Boston’s chances next year.

The signing of Castillo adds to a crowded outfield picture in Boston. Shane Victorino and Cespedes are both under contract through 2015, with Cespedes set to earn $10.5MM and Victorino earning $13MM. The team also acquired Allen Craig from the Cardinals in the John Lackey trade, and Craig is guaranteed $26.5MM through the 2017 season. While he can play first base or DH, of course, the Red Sox have Mike Napoli and David Ortiz entrenched at those respective positions next season.

Beyond the guaranteed contracts, Castillo’s presence further muddies the long-term roles of both Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts with the organization. Bradley has proven himself an elite defensive center fielder this season, but he’s failed to adapt to Major League pitching and has authored a meager .210/.286/.300 batting line in 494 career plate appearances. Betts, a second baseman by trade, is blocked at his natural position by Dustin Pedroia and therefore converted to center field in 2014. However, with Castillo in the fold, the Red Sox now have a full outfield of guaranteed contracts, which could make it difficult for him to find everyday at-bats next year. However, Betts’ .335/.417/.503 batting line at Triple-A this season is a strong indicator that he is a Major-League-ready talent.

It’s certainly possible that the addition of Castillo will lead to some further roster shuffling by the Red Sox this offseason. Cherington and his staff will have a number of different resources — both veterans on guaranteed contracts and controllable, high upside prospects — at their disposal should they wish to leverage the trade market to address some or all of their starting pitching needs.

William Perez Villalba of Glorias del Beisbol Cubano first noted on Facebook that the two sides were in agreement and reported the general parameters, with MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez confirming that the two sides were “on track” for a deal in that range. Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald and ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes reported the $72.5MM guarantee and seven-year term. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman and WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford were the first to report key details about the structure of Castillo’s contract.

Photo courtesy of Larry Marano.


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275 Comments on "Red Sox Sign Rusney Castillo"


Member
bobbleheadguru
10 months 15 days ago

They cannot give Lester fair market value, but the Red Sox can inflate the Castillo contract to 50% over original projections?

Why? Just because he is 27?

Member
10 months 15 days ago

The Tigers can’t give Scherzer market value, but they can trade for David Price.

Castillo is young. Lester is not. Castillo’s contract won’t be a major hit on our payroll. Lester would.

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LittleOtterPaws
10 months 15 days ago

I agree with you, but the holdup with teams like the Red Sox or Yankees is about value, not payroll restrictions.

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MB923
10 months 15 days ago

Lester is an all star/Cy Young caliber pitcher. Castillo hasn’t played a game yet.

Member
10 months 15 days ago

Big money deals for aging pitchers almost always go south. This could too, but it’s 70 million.

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jacks81x
10 months 15 days ago

I agree, but it’s not like Lester is 35. Plus the Sox had the opportunity to lock him up long-term the last couple years when he was 28-29. Lefties also tend to age a little better than righties do, especially for someone like Lester who has very good control.

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Karkat
10 months 15 days ago

So was Sabathia.

Member
jacks81x
10 months 15 days ago

As was Randy Johnson, who at age 40 had 16 wins, a 2.60 ERA, 290 Ks, and finished 2nd in the Cy Young.

Member
Red_Line_9
10 months 15 days ago

Interesting, I’d say lefties hang on longer in general because there are fewer of them. There are always outliers though such as Johnson or Jaime Moyer. I’d say their sustained success, especially with Johnson had more to do with elite talent than handedness. Righties will always have Nolan Ryan

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MB923
10 months 15 days ago

And? I never said Sabathia’s contract was great, nor am I saying Lester will live up to the one he gets. The point is, if one of the 2 (Lester or Castillo) deserves the big bucks, it’s obviously Lester.

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Karkat
10 months 15 days ago

I think we gladly would’ve given Lester a 6-year $72million contract! 😛

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MB923
10 months 15 days ago

$72 million isn’t “big bucks” for a #1-#2 pitcher nowadays. 5-10 years ago that would be, but not today.

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Karkat
10 months 15 days ago

I’m just trying to express that I don’t think the comparison you’re making is felicitous.

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MB923
10 months 15 days ago

I’m not comparing the 2. I’m responding to 2 others who did.

I think it’s fair to compare contracts though.

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vtadave
10 months 15 days ago

Hey, stop using big words like “felicitous” here. The Internet has no place for that. :-)

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Ishkabibble
10 months 15 days ago

Obviously, huh?

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Better
10 months 15 days ago

He’s a Cy Young caliber pitcher this year…1 year…and he’s 30.

Member
Phillyfan425
10 months 15 days ago

I also think (at least for the Lester/Castillo debate) is the fact that one is a pitcher. A lot of teams (Red Sox, especially) have shown a hesitance to give pitcher long term deals. While Castillo may get hurt during his contract, I’d bet the percentages are much higher that Lester will get injured (not that I want either to happen).

Member
10 months 15 days ago

Agreed.

Member
bobbleheadguru
10 months 15 days ago

1. Tigers offered Scherzer almost DOUBLE what the Red Sox offered Lester. $144MM was the offer [NOTE: I corrected the number]. Do you really think that offer was not market value?

2. Castillo projects to be closer to Rajai Davis (younger) than Puig. He better be Puig at that contract level.

Member
Phillyfan425
10 months 15 days ago

He’s making $12 M a year – he “needs” to be a 2 WAR player. Just because some teams found a market inefficiency in the Cuban players early on in this cycle and took a chance that they’d work out well, doesn’t mean you can compare all players to the early signings. It’s better to compare them to the most recent signing (as teams see that – for the most part – only really good players are defecting).

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MB923
10 months 15 days ago

I think it was $144 million, not $175 million

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bobbleheadguru
10 months 15 days ago

I stand correctly. There were no negotiations. That was the Tigers STARTING position. Very likely they would have come close to the Verlander $180MM level (with one more year, perhaps vesting option), IF they negotiated.

Member
10 months 15 days ago

If he can get more, than no. It isn’t market value by definition.

The Sox clearly saw more than Davis in him. Hopefully whoever evaluated Craig wasn’t doing to work.

Member
bobbleheadguru
10 months 15 days ago

Boras/Scherzer took a huge risk that he could be close to Cy Young level again. Insurance policy covered the risk to a certain extent.

However the STARTING contract offer was fair market value IMO if he were a free agent last year.

Member
10 months 15 days ago

Fair is one thing. But you asked if it was market value. Which it wouldn’t be if he could get more. Market value is dictated by what team’s are willing to pay. Not what you think they deserve.

Member
10 months 15 days ago

It sure seemed like fair market last winter when it was offered. It’s not now after the year Scherzer is having. Scherzer gambled on himself and won. If he had a crappy 2014, it would have been an overpay.

Member
10 months 15 days ago

Fair market value and market value are not the same thing.

Member
Better
10 months 15 days ago

I’m certain the Red Sox see Giancarlo Stanton in him. Miami can’t trade Stanton unless they get guys that will draw fans and in a heavily Cuban populated area those guys are Cespedes and Castillo.

Member
Red_Line_9
10 months 15 days ago

Makes you wonder why the Marlins weren’t in on him now, rather than deal Stanton to Boston to acquire him down the road. They’ll be on the hook for that salary one way or another and also be getting an older player. I think it’s easy to make assumptions about market bases as well. It seems that every Asian player that hits the market… fans link the Giants to them.

Member
10 months 15 days ago

The Sox did not sign Castillo to get Stanton. That is not something you should be certain about.

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Better
10 months 10 days ago

They got Castillo to replace Cespedes when he’s traded for Stanton.

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stl_cards16
10 months 15 days ago

He better be Puig at $12MM a year? Have you seen contracts lately? If Puig were a Free Agent right now he’d sign for more than double this contract.

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nslfy
10 months 15 days ago

If he projects to be a young Rajai Davis then he will be traded for an over the hill, end of his career pitcher that gave no value to his new team. Thanks Dave Littlefield!

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CharlieMurphy
10 months 15 days ago

He projects to be Rajai Davis according to who? I’m assuming you haven’t seen him play, so let’s pump the brakes on the comparisons. If I remember correctly a lot of scouts were not in love with Puig or Abreu, either.

If he can put up an OPS+ of 105-110, he’ll be giving them what Ellsbury did for less than half of the cost.

Member
lwayne
10 months 15 days ago

Being back loaded, if he does not pan out as far as his salary goes, he will be an anchor and untradeable, sort of like Josh Hamilton already is. Paying 25 mil for a 7 mil player for several more years. Long termers usually do not work our well for the team.

Member
10 months 15 days ago

Backloaded doesn’t really matter. If he becomes a burden and the Sox can’t move him without eating money, they would.

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Karkat
10 months 15 days ago

Sounds like it’s only “back-loaded” in the sense that the 72 million is pretty much all spread out over the next six seasons, with almost nothing coming this year.

Member
108 stitches
10 months 15 days ago

Be careful, if Vernon Wells was able to be traded, their is hope that Hamilton could be as well. Power is in such short supply a team with a short right field fence might bite on Hamilton at a discounted price (3/60 million as opposed to 3/75).

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108 stitches
10 months 15 days ago

I correct myself I just looked at COT’s and realized how back loaded that contract is. Still I could see a team biting on his bat for 3/60 as opposed to 3/89.

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Bob George
10 months 15 days ago

But Castillo is a virtual unknown. These guys do not get scouted in Cuba, so the book on them is very small. Teams see a Cuban free agent and fall all over themselves. It’s a very odd system where unknowns get tens of millions in guaranteed money and most well known, heavily scouted, much younger prospects get a hundred k or less because of the draft rules.

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Better
10 months 15 days ago

Miami loves Cuban players

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Bruinsfan94
10 months 15 days ago

Fair market value for Lester is probably going to be 150+ for a 30 year old pitcher. As much as I hope they get him back or a solid pitcher its gonna be hard to justify that price. I don’t think that would be 50 % more but I don’t remember the first projections. I heard alot in the 60 million range. Abreu, puig and yc have all been a success. I cant think of many 30 year old pitchers on mega contracts who did that great.

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Ralph Esposito
10 months 15 days ago

Unbelievable! This could go down as one of the worst contracts of all time. All this does is make every player in baseball want triple of their actual market value.

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Better
10 months 15 days ago

I like this deal better than the Ellsbury deal…

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Ralph Esposito
10 months 15 days ago

U stand corrected. Tied for the worst.

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BucknerRulz86
10 months 14 days ago

Sorry, there are quite a few in front of this deal.
Barry Zito and Vernon Wells say Hi.

Member
Better
10 months 15 days ago

Prior to this season would you have paid Jon Lester $22-$25M a year? People are so blinded by 1 good season. He hadn’t even received 1 Cy Young vote since like 2010…

Member
CharlieMurphy
10 months 15 days ago

First of all we’re talking about a difference of about $100 million when comparing those two. Not to mention Castillo will play every day. The Sox offense has been horrible this year, and they just acquired another asset that will make them better…. without having to pay Ellsbury money or give up prospects.

Member
Christopher A. Otto
10 months 15 days ago

Wow. … This pretty much guarantees that Yasmani Tomas gets a contract of $100M or more, right?

Member
Phillyfan425
10 months 15 days ago

Ehh, if I’m Tomas (which I’d never pretend to know about the struggles these guys go through to get out of Cuba), I’d probably look for a shorter deal (because of his age). Maybe 4-5 years (that way, he’s earned a significant amount of money, but if he plays well, still has a chance at that “huge” contract at 28-29). Tomas isn’t without his flaws either, though (some are worried about his uppercut swing – where he was regularly beat by the US power arms the last time he played for Cuba).
I think, the only thing we’ve learned from this signing is that the Cuban market is unpredictable.

Member
Ralph Esposito
10 months 15 days ago

Daispagne and Toma’s will get in the $100-$125 million range each now. They have talent. It only takes one to throw everything out of whack.

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Phillyfan425
10 months 15 days ago

Wow…just…wow. He may turn out to be a very good player – but this is more than Abreu got (although, depending on the guarantees/arbitration options, Abreu may end up with more) and from everything I’ve been reading, there was a lot less uncertainty about Abreu than there is Castillo. I guess the window has closed for getting the talent on the cheap from the Cuban market.

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MB923
10 months 15 days ago

Wow.

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Sung Woo Chung
10 months 15 days ago

I just want to hear Ben’s official explanation on signing Castillo. If he fails to sign Lester this off-season, there’s gonna be riots on the streets of Boston.

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Lefty_Orioles_Fan
10 months 15 days ago

Really? Rioting?

Although, I would like know how someone who doesn’t have as good of an arm as Puig gets a bigger contract. I am sorry, but that just makese zero sense to me. Now grant it, i haven’t seen Castillo’s game, but still.

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LittleOtterPaws
10 months 15 days ago

Boston is overdue for a riot

Member
10 months 15 days ago

That wouldn’t be very in line with Boston Strong.

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Better
10 months 15 days ago

Not if they trade for Stanton

Member
10 months 15 days ago

I don’t think so. Ben has a plan, whether its Hamels or Cueto, or some other SP not on the trade radar at the moment, Ben certainly has an offseason plan