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"


bobbleheadguru
1 year 6 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?

1 year 6 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.

LittleOtterPaws
1 year 6 days ago

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

MB923
1 year 6 days ago

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

1 year 6 days ago

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

jacks81x
1 year 6 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.

Karkat
1 year 6 days ago

So was Sabathia.

jacks81x
1 year 6 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.

Red_Line_9
1 year 6 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

MB923
1 year 6 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.

Karkat
1 year 6 days ago

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

MB923
1 year 6 days ago

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

Karkat
1 year 6 days ago

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

MB923
1 year 6 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.

vtadave
1 year 6 days ago

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

Ishkabibble
1 year 6 days ago

Obviously, huh?

Better
1 year 6 days ago

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

Phillyfan425
1 year 6 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).

1 year 6 days ago

Agreed.

bobbleheadguru
1 year 6 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.

Phillyfan425
1 year 6 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).

MB923
1 year 6 days ago

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

bobbleheadguru
1 year 6 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.

1 year 6 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.

bobbleheadguru
1 year 6 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.

1 year 6 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.

1 year 6 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.

1 year 6 days ago

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

Better
1 year 6 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.

Red_Line_9
1 year 6 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.

1 year 6 days ago

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

Better
1 year 1 day ago

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

stl_cards16
1 year 6 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.

nslfy
1 year 6 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!

CharlieMurphy
1 year 6 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.

lwayne
1 year 6 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.

1 year 6 days ago

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

Karkat
1 year 6 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.

108 stitches
1 year 6 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).

108 stitches
1 year 6 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.

Bob George
1 year 6 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.

Better
1 year 6 days ago

Miami loves Cuban players

Bruinsfan94
1 year 6 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.

Ralph Esposito
1 year 6 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.

Better
1 year 6 days ago

I like this deal better than the Ellsbury deal…

Ralph Esposito
1 year 6 days ago

U stand corrected. Tied for the worst.

BucknerRulz86
1 year 5 days ago

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

Better
1 year 6 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…

CharlieMurphy
1 year 6 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.

Christopher A. Otto
1 year 6 days ago

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

Phillyfan425
1 year 6 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.

Ralph Esposito
1 year 6 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.

Phillyfan425
1 year 6 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.

MB923
1 year 6 days ago

Wow.

Sung Woo Chung
1 year 6 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.

Lefty_Orioles_Fan
Lefty_Orioles_Fan
1 year 6 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.

LittleOtterPaws
1 year 6 days ago

Boston is overdue for a riot

1 year 6 days ago

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

Better
1 year 6 days ago

Not if they trade for Stanton

1 year 6 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

MilkMeMore
1 year 6 days ago

Wow, well 10MM a year doesnt sound too bad. And for a team like Boston it should be chump change. So no real risk.

Ralph Esposito
1 year 6 days ago

If I’m Lester and Boston has the stones to call me, I want 7 years $210 million. Not a penny less.

Red_Line_9
1 year 6 days ago

Boston won’t get in a bidding war with Chicago for Lester, most likely.

Bertin Lefkovic
1 year 6 days ago

Neither Boston nor Chicago will make the highest offer for Lester, but I predict that one of them gets him.

Red_Line_9
1 year 6 days ago

Likely not, I can see the Yankees and Angels and maybe even a dark horse Marlins in on him…maybe even Texas if they can clear Andrus off the ledger.

Bertin Lefkovic
1 year 6 days ago

I would love to see the Yankees get him, but I think that any team other than the Cubs or the Red Sox will have to give him seven years to get him and even then, I think that either the Cubs or the Red Sox could get him with a 5-year deal with a vestable option for a 6th year.

Red_Line_9
1 year 6 days ago

Given the probable contract size, and the fact that the Cubs will likely be shopping makes them logical…aside from the Epstein connections. I honestly feel, though, that James Shields would make more sense for teams.

Bertin Lefkovic
1 year 6 days ago

I don’t disagree. 3 years of Shields is probably a better bet than 6-7 years of Lester. If either the Cubs or the Red Sox get Lester for 5 years, then it becomes a tougher call.

vtadave
1 year 6 days ago

That’s it?
– N. Colletti

1 year 6 days ago

This is great. I love this deal.

Karkat
1 year 6 days ago

I just really hope he isn’t a flop

1 year 6 days ago

I do too. But worst case scenario is that he’s a bit of deadweight on the payroll. I think of the Drew, Lugo, Cameron, 2012 Lackey, 2008 Schilling, etc, and see that we generally have survived carrying at least one stinky contract. Hopefully this isn’t it.

mattdecap
1 year 6 days ago

J.D. or Stephen? I think the Red Sox would be very happy if Castillo put up the numbers J.D. did in the outfield.

MB923
1 year 6 days ago

Yeah I don’t know why many Red Sox fans hated JD Drew’s contract. His only subpar year with the Sox was his last year in which he only played 81 games. His career OPS+ with Boston was still a very good 114.

vtadave
1 year 6 days ago

I think they hated the person more than the contract.

1 year 6 days ago

He was injured all the time. While his OPS+ was respectable and his defense was stellar, he was never a difference maker besides his grand slam in game 6 of the 2007 ALCS and through June of 08. He was a constant disappointment.

mattdecap
1 year 6 days ago

If by disappointment you mean getting on base 40% of the time, putting up ~4 fWAR in injury shortened seasons, and getting a big hit in a World Series championship postseason before breaking down in the last year of his 5 year deal, sure, I guess he was a disappointment. Maybe he wasn’t a “difference maker” on the level of Ramirez, Ortiz, or Youkilis, but just because he bat in an incredibly deep Red Sox line-up doesn’t mean he wasn’t a good player. The only knock on him is he missed a lot of games.

Zac
1 year 6 days ago

All I’m saying is that the sox either need to sign Lester or trade for Hamels, and possibly bring in Shields to be the #2 starter.

1 year 6 days ago

Why do they need to add 50+ million in rotational salary?

Zac
1 year 6 days ago

Have you seen the rotation? Would you really want to go into the season with (buch, ruby, Webster, Workman, and Ranuado) as your starters? None of those guys are are #1 or #2 starters. Sox won with great pitching last year. This current rotation won’t get us anywhere.

1 year 6 days ago

One, yea. We don’t need two.

Zac
1 year 6 days ago

I defiantly believe two pitchers are needed. Why did the sox have a horrible season this year? Well in short terms because our offense didn’t hit. Why? Because Ben put to much faith in our prospects (Xander, JBJ, and WMB). We’d be making the same mistake if we relied on 3 rookie pitchers next season. We don’t know if Workman and Webster can be starters (both have been really shaky at times). Also Buch is always a question mark. Ruby looks like a solid #3-4 but that’s it. DO you honestly believe we can compete with those pitchers.

1 year 6 days ago

I think two are needed as well. But the second doesn’t need to be a risky front line starter on a mega deal.

Zac
1 year 6 days ago

If the money is right, Shields should be the guy. He can pitch in the AL East and has been good the past few years. I just don’t believe Webster and Workman will be quality starters, I have no clue what Buch will give us, and a solid top two starters will be needed if this team wants to make the playoffs.

1 year 6 days ago

That’s a big if. I think he will be on their radar. Two top starters isn’t going to happen though. If that was what was on Cherington’s mind, Lester would have been extended.

Zac
1 year 6 days ago

Well Cherington needs to bring in a solid #2 or #3 starter or this team is not going anywhere. You can’t win with 4 out of your 5 starters being average. Unless Buch somehow regains form, even with Lester or Hamels, it’d be one of the worst rotations in baseball.

Seamaholic
1 year 6 days ago

Hate to break it to you, but the AL East kind of stinks these days.

Victoria Roberts
1 year 6 days ago

Really because I was under the impression that 2 out of the top 5 teams in OPS were in the AL east. Was I wrong?

FunkyTime
1 year 6 days ago

4 of the 5 teams also have extremely hitter friendly parks.

Victoria Roberts
1 year 6 days ago

Which is why it is difficult to pitch there. That was what the conversation was about. I’m also fairly certain the the Blue Jays and Orioles would hit in pretty much any park on the planet.

Jim Johnson
1 year 6 days ago

Not really. It’s just not top heavy this year. But from top to bottom it’s as good as any division in baseball.

MB923
1 year 5 days ago

Above/below .500

AL East – +9
AL Central – +2
AL West – +11

NL East – +4
NL Central – +6
NL West – -20

Not the strongest, but it certainly doesn’t stink.

Andrew m
1 year 6 days ago

If the Sox sign Castillo and trade for Hamels, where does that leave their roster? Is that enough to compete?

Zac
1 year 6 days ago

They’ll probably need another pitcher because as of right now, they have no #1 or #2 starters with a lot of questionable #3-5 starters. If they get Hamels and Bring in a proven #2-3 starter, I’d think they should be able to compete.

Red_Line_9
1 year 6 days ago

Shields is a completely legit option.

Bertin Lefkovic
1 year 6 days ago

If Shields is the #2 starter, who is #1? Unless Lester decides to take a lot less money and years to stay with the Red Sox, I predict that they sign both Masterson and Shields to 3-year deals. I don’t know where you slot Buchholz with them, but he most certainly is not the best of the three. He might not even be #2.

I also expect that the Red Sox will trade Shane Victorino to the Mets for Bartolo Colon, who will slot in to the #4 spot with one of the young pitchers, most likely Kelly, getting the #5 spot. Actually, Kelly could conceivably be #3 or #4 with Colon being #5.

Zac
1 year 4 days ago

If you read my post their top priority is signing Lester or trading for Hamels. They could get either one of those guys and they would be the #1. I then stated that the sox should go after Shields so they can have a 1-2 punch. I’m not a fan of Masterson because he’s been awful this year and we can’t count on him being a #2. I don’t see Colon as an option unless they just want to dump salary to the mets. Colon has played in Boston before and it wasn’t good. My rotation would be #1 Lester/Hamels, #2 Shields, #3 Ruby, #4 Buch, #5 Kelly/Ranuado. If the sox want to win, they’ll have to spend money. The offense on paper has improved but the pitching rotation as it currently stands is one of the worst in the league.

Bertin Lefkovic
1 year 3 days ago

The problem with investing in expensive lefties like Hamels or Lester is that if/when they decline, they are more vulnerable in a ballpark like Fenway than a righty experiencing a similar decline. They can probably get more bang for their buck from Masterson or Shields than Hamels or Lester.

Colon should be an option if the Red Sox want to swap a surplus outfielder (Victorino) for him and the Mets want to do the same. Colon’s numbers were not bad with the Red Sox and whatever happened when he was in Boston and Chicago is less relevant than the good years that he has had since then in NYC and Oakland.

Zac
1 year 3 days ago

Yes it is a risky investment just like a lot of contracts now a days. The issue is that Ortiz doesn’t have much juice left and Pedey looks to be on the decline, if the sox want to compete in 2015 and 16, they’ll need an ace and a second pitcher like Shields to be a #2. Max is to expensive and that leaves Lester as the only ace left in FA. You either pay Lester upwards of 130-150M or trade 2-3 really good prospects for Hamels. This team will not compete if the top two starters are Shields and Masterson. The back of the rotation just isn’t good enough for that. Masterson is more of a risk then reward given the year he has had. The sox also don’t know what’ll they’ll get from buch or their rookie pitchers so adding Masterson to that, if they did what you said minus Colon cause that’s not happening, they’d have 4 question marks at starting pitching with Shields as the only reliable option. Lester or Hamels makes a long with Shields makes this team one of the best in the AL East.

Bertin Lefkovic
1 year 3 days ago

I disagree. I think that they have more offense than you think and I think that they would get much more out of one year of Colon than you think. Shields, Masterson, Buchholz, Kelly, Colon, and their bullpen would probably pitch to a team ERA of 3.50-3.75. Their offense will be good enough to score at least 4 runs a game if not more.

If you really feel the need to have a stud at the top of the Red Sox rotation, I would try to sign Scherzer even if he costs more than Lester in terms of dollars and/or years or trade for Verlander, because he will cost less in terms of prospects than Hamels. At the end of their deals, Scherzer or Verlander will be less vulnerable in Fenway than Hamels or Lester, because the ballpark is so much friendlier for RHPs.