Rusney Castillo Rumors

Cubs Notes: Russell, Baez, Trades, Castillo

ESPN’s Jim Bowden spoke with Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein for the latest installment of his video blogThe GM’s Office. Here are some highlights from the interview (although as usual, the entire interview is well worth your time) and some other Cubs-related notes as the trade deadline approaches…

  • The Cubs had initially hoped to acquire a “can’t miss” prospect that they could “hang [their] hat on” by trading Jeff Samardzija on his own, but the team couldn’t pass up on the opportunity to acquire Addison Russell once Athletics GM Billy Beane said he would include him if Jason Hammel were in the trade as well.
  • If Javier Baez has to move off shortstop due to the presence of Russell or Starlin Castro, the Cubs see him as more of a second baseman than a third baseman. Chicago has played Baez at second base quite a bit following the All-Star break, and Epstein called the transition “seamless.”
  • “Having too many shortstops is never a problem,” Epstein said. “They’re the best athletes, the best defenders, and we’ll find spots for all these guys. … We don’t see it as a problem. We have lots of different ways they can all fit on the field together. Kris Bryant, who’s playing third now, also has the option of going out and playing right field.”
  • Asked about the possibility of trading a lefty reliever such as James Russell in a more minor move (relative to the Samardzija/Hammel blockbuster), Epstein replied: “I think chances are pretty good we’ll make at least one move. We have a number of players, like James, that are under control and that factor into our plans going forward. The threshold to move those players is certainly higher … you’re probably more likely to see a deal for a player who’s eligible for free agency at the end of the season.”
  • Bowden asked it this would be the offseason in which the Cubs delve heavily into the free agent market, to which Epstein replied, “There’s no switch that gets flipped that says now all of a sudden we’re big players in free agency.” As Epstein points out, the Cubs have spent on the free agent market previously, and they made a “very, very significant” offer to Masahiro Tanaka in an effort to bring him to Wrigley Field as well. Epstein emphasized that in free agency, “you have to be willing to walk away,” as it’s too dangerous to be locked in on any player, regardless of the cost.
  • The Cubs had five scouts in attendance at Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo‘s showcase, GM Jed Hoyer tells Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). Castillo’s name continues to generate buzz, and some believe he could fetch a contract similar to that of Yoenis Cespedes or Yasiel Puig.
  • A second tweet from Gonzales contains a short and sweet quote from Hoyer on the team’s approach at the trade deadline: “We’ll be active.”

Latest On Rusney Castillo

TUESDAY: Castillo, who worked out for the Phillies today, has set up a private workout with the Mariners on Sunday as well, reports MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez (on Twitter). His one-on-one workout with the Red Sox is still set for Friday.

MONDAY, 8:29pm: Ben Badler of Baseball America writes that the Yankees indeed have a private workout scheduled with Castillo.

7:33pm: General Manager Jeff Luhnow says the Astros may schedule a one-on-one workout with Castillo, writes Brian McTaggart of MLB.com.

7:24pm: A source tells Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com (on Twitter) that only the Phillies (on Tuesday) and the Red Sox (Friday) have private workouts set up with Castillo.  However, private workouts are in the works for the Yankees and other clubs.

Unsurprisingly, the Twins are not among the teams looking to line up a workout with Castillo, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN.  Minnesota likes Castillo, but the expected asking price is too rich for their blood.

3:11pm: Reports indicated that 28 of Major League Baseball’s 30 teams were represented at Rusney Castillo‘s showcase over the weekend, and Ben Badler of Baseball America has the latest on the 27-year-old Cuban free agent. Castillo will have private workouts with the Red Sox, Yankees and Phillies this coming week, and Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets that the Orioles are also arranging a private workout.

Badler lists the White Sox, Mariners, Giants, Blue Jays, Cubs and Braves as other potential suitors. Because multiple teams have interest in getting a deal worked out quickly, however, there aren’t likely to be any further private workouts before a deal gets done, Badler writes. Additionally, Badler has posted some video footage from Castillo’s weekend showcase.

Multiple sources indicated to Badler that the Red Sox had the largest contingent on-hand Saturday for Castillo’s showcase. He notes that Jackie Bradley has more upside at the plate, and Mookie Betts might factor in as a corner outfield option in the long-term due to the presence of Dustin Pedroia, but Boston could be intrigued by Castillo as a corner option as well. He did play right field in Cuba, Badler adds.

The Yankees, meanwhile, could weigh the possibility of trying Castillo at second base, though they could have a corner spot open alongside Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner as well. Castillo played second base (and some third base) back in 2009-10, but scouts at the showcase weren’t overly impressed with his glovework as an infielder.

Center field is Castillo’s best position, Badler writes, so it stands to reason that the Phillies could view him as an upgrade over the light-hitting Ben Revere. Playing Castillo in center field allows him to maximize his best tool — 70-grade speed.

While the White Sox are very well-versed in the Cuban market — as evidenced by the presence of Jose Abreu, Alexei Ramirez and Dayan Viciedo on their roster — the presence of countrymen on their roster won’t influence Castillo, Badler hears. His decision will come down to financial terms.

Badler adds that the Giants also had a very strong presence at Castillo’s showcase, and he makes sense for them as their system has thinned following a trade for Jake Peavy and their continued interest in Ben Zobrist. The Cubs also had “a team” of evaluators on-hand to witness Castillo, who would bolster an already enviable crop of hitting prospects.


Blue Jays Notes: Prospects, Asdrubal, Headley

After going into the All-Star break on a 2-8 slide, the Blue Jays have righted the ship by winning seven of 10 games since the Midsummer Classic.  This hot streak has gotten the Jays back into the postseason picture, as they currently hold a one-game lead over the Yankees for the second AL wild card slot.  Here’s the latest hot stove buzz out of Toronto…

  • The Phillies specifically scouted a recent rehab start by Jays southpaw prospect Sean Nolin, Rogers Sportnet’s Shi Davidi reports.  Nolin was rated as the 97th-best prospect in the sport by Baseball America prior to the 2013 season, and he owns a 3.12 ERA, 7.5 K/9 and 1.62 K/BB rate over 13 Triple-A starts.
  • Also from Davidi’s piece, the Rangers are one of a few clubs who have been sending more scouts to watch the Jays’ short-season Class A team in Vancouver.  Righty Miguel Castro, left-hander Jairo Labourt and shortstop Franklin Barreto appear to be drawing the bulk of the scouts’ interest.
  • Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera is “an option” for the Jays, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter link).  Cabrera would presumably be a candidate at second base for Toronto since Jose Reyes is locked into the shortstop job; Cabrera saw lots of action at the keystone over the first three years of his career but hasn’t seen any action at 2B since 2009.  He is a free agent this winter and is thought to be an expendable piece for the Tribe since top prospect Francisco Lindor is on the way.
  • The Padres were willing to pay all of the $4MM that was owed to Chase Headley for the rest of the 2014 season as part of a proposed deal that would’ve sent the third baseman to Toronto, Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun reports.  An executive familiar with the negotiations between the Padres and Jays tells Elliott that San Diego was asking for Juan Francisco and two “not big-time prospects” in return.  Francisco (.242/.313/.529 with 16 homers in 249 PA) is having a much better season than Headley (.238/.300/.371 with eight homers in 330 PA) and comes with three years of control while Headley is a free agent after this season, though Headley has obviously been the more high-profile player in recent years.  San Diego ended up dealing Headley to the Yankees for Yangervis Solarte, Rafael De Paula and all but $1MM of Headley’s remaining salary.
  • The Blue Jays were one of 28 teams at the Rusney Castillo showcase on Saturday, Shi Davidi tweets, with the Jays sending “multiple people” to check out the Cuban outfielder.


Rusney Castillo Impresses In Showcase

Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo put on a showcase yesterday that was ultimately said to be watched by scouts from 28 of the league’s 30 clubs, according to Walter Villa of Baseball America, who provides a robust account of the day.

While scouts offered slightly differing takes, as might be expected, the workout did little to dampen the growing hype surrounding Castillo. At the dish, Castillo showed surprising power and swung well against live pitching from Nate Carter (a D-II closer). His speed rated as anywhere from very good to outstanding and he showed an average big league arm from the outfield (“his weakest tool,” according to one scout). Though Castillo looked promising enough at short, Villa says that his future still seems to lie in the outfield, where he may be capable of manning center.

All in all, Castillo seems to have left the impression that he is a major league talent. It remains to be seen how his market will develop, but Ken Davidoff of the New York Post notes that the Yankees had four sets of eyes in the stands, with the Red Sox sending five. Agent Brodie Van Wagenen said that he believes “a lot of teams may view [Castillo] as a trade-deadline-type acquisition, and that he could be playing in a pennant race in September.”

Given the 27-year-old’s wide potential market, and the fact that he might be a contributor for a contender, the bidding will be fascinating to watch. One scout tells Davidoff that he thinks Castillo will land between $25MM and $35MM, while another said that he could reach Yasiel Puig territory ($42MM), even if he is not viewed as that level of talent.


Latest On Rusney Castillo

5:33pm: The Reds, too, will join the party, according to a tweet from C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Likewise, the Padres will be on hand, tweets Corey Brock of MLB.com. The brings the current tally of teams reportedly planning to have a look at Castillo to 17.

4:30pm: John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group tweets that the A’s will also be in attendance at tomorrow’s showcase.

12:46pm: Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo‘s showcase for Major League teams is tomorrow, but MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez adds an interesting twist to the audition: the speedster will work out at both center field and at shortstop (Twitter link).

Previous reports have indicated that the Twins, Cubs, White Sox, Braves, Giants, Mariners, and Orioles would attend the showcase. Additionally, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes that the Rays will be in attendance, while Juan C. Rodriguez of the Miami Sun-Sentinel notes that the Marlins will be in attendance, and George A. King III of the New York Post adds the Yankees to the mix. Beyond that, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports adds lists a few other clubs that will attend: the Mets, Red Sox, Rangers and Astros.

Castillo is said by many to have plus-plus speed, and several scouting reports have comped him to Brett Gardner with a bit more power. The right-handed hitting 27-year-old has drawn praise for his line-drive stroke, and he’s thought of as a potential starting-caliber outfielder for a Major League club. Sanchez has tweeted a new scouting video of Castillo (including footage of him pushing a car — seriously), while a scouting report can also be seen over at Baseball America, courtesy of international guru Ben Badler. Castillo is represented by Roc Nation Sports.


AL Central Notes: Shields, Moore, Rios, Castillo

The Royals‘ recent slide has dropped them below the .500 mark and, with so many teams ahead of them in the playoff race, Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron believes K.C. should cut its losses and trade James Shields.  There seems to be little chance Shields will re-sign with Kansas City this winter, so the Royals could get more prospect value by dealing him now than they would by getting a single compensation pick if and when he left in the offseason, Cameron opines.

Here’s the latest from around the AL Central…

  • Dayton Moore doesn’t seem to be in sell mode, nor does he necessarily seem to be close on any trades as per comments made to FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi.  “I’m not going to give up on our team….We need the group of players we have to produce. We believe they will,” the Royals GM said (Twitter links).
  • The Royals had a scout watching the Rangers/Blue Jays series over the weekend, and Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News believes the right-handed hitting outfielder-needy Royals could’ve been there to watch Alex Rios.  Of course, Rios suffered a sprained ankle during the first inning of Saturday’s game and hasn’t played since.  The sprain isn’t believed to be too serious, yet even a minor injury can’t help Rios’ trade value.
  • The Twins will attend Rusney Castillo‘s showcase for scouts on July 26, 1500 ESPN’s Darren Wolfson reports (Twitter link).  There is “no sense yet of real interest” from Minnesota, according to Wolfson, and the decision will ultimately come down to how high the bidding gets for the Cuban outfielder’s services.
  • Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer doesn’t expect the Indians to be major players at the trade deadline, either as buyers or sellers.  The Indians are still in the hunt for both the AL Central lead and a wild card spot so they won’t be selling any notable players, but “it would be a shock if they added any high-priced talent.”

Quick Hits: Rangers, Castillo, Ziegler, Butler

The Rangers believe they can be competitive in 2015 and therefore won’t be trading players like Yu Darvish, Adrian Beltre or Elvis Andrus, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports. Even with a number of talented young infielders in their system, they don’t want to trade Andrus, who is an important figure in their clubhouse. They will, however, consider dealing Joakim Soria and Alex Rios. The Tigers have shown interest in Soria, and the Mariners, Blue Jays, Giants or Royals could all be fits for Rios. Reliever Neal Cotts could also fetch a nice return for Texas. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.

  • The Cubs, White Sox, Braves and Giants all have interest in Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez writes. Sanchez notes that Castillo has received comparisons to Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and Kenny Lofton. All teams throughout MLB are likely to be represented at Castillo’s showcase next week.
  • The Tigers have asked about the availability of reliever Brad Ziegler, but the Diamondbacks are likely to keep him, tweets FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi. Ziegler has pitched well this year and is under contract for $5MM in 2015, with a reasonable option on his services the following year.
  • Billy Butler believes the Royals should pick up the $12.5MM 2015 option on his contract, but if they don’t want to, he’s willing to renegotiate so he can stay in Kansas City, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star writes. “My numbers throughout my contract suggest they should (pick it up),” says Butler. “Maybe not the way I’ve necessarily played this year, but that’s the reason you play a full 162 games. … That’s the reason why you have a track record.” Butler has struggled this year, with a .272/.324/.354 line in 383 plate appearances that’s well below his career norms.
    Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/sports/mlb/kansas-city-royals/article762548.html#storylink=cpy

West Notes: Trout, Ackley, Castillo, Uggla, Towers

You probably will not be surprised to learn that Angels star Mike Trout has once again been rated the game’s most valuable asset by Dave Cameron of Fangraphs. Though he now comes with a long-term financial commitment, Trout has also promised away three more seasons of club control and remains highly underpaid for his services. Paul Goldschmidt of the Diamondbacks also made a leap, moving into the third overall slot on Cameron’s top fifty; the entire series is, of course, well worth a read.

Here’s the latest from the game’s West divisions:

  • Mariners outfielder (and former second baseman) Dustin Ackley has drawn significant trade interest, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Clubs are interested in a chance at a turnaround from a player who was once one of the game’s top prospects, notes Heyman. With Robinson Cano etched in stone at second and Seattle looking to upgrade its production in the corner outfield, Ackley could theoretically be included as part of a package or dealt away to create roster space.
  • The Mariners plan to be on hand to watch Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo in his upcoming showcase, reports Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. Of course, that does not mean that Seattle is in a unique position, as GM Jack Zduriencik explains. “Any time there’s someone out there showcasing, we’re going to have somebody there,” said Zduriencik. “This would be no different, but most other clubs will have somebody there as well.” Of course, the M’s are a particularly interesting team to watch with regard to Castillo given the team’s need for a right-handed hitting corner outfielder.
  • The Giants are considering bringing in just-released second baseman Dan Uggla, CSNBayArea.com’s Andrew Baggarly reports on Twitter. While Marco Scutaro is back on the active roster, it may take some time to determine whether he’ll be a regular, healthy contributor. Indeed, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle said in an appearance on the Sports Virus Podcast that it is “not a real optimistic situation” for Scutaro to hold down the club’s second base job.
  • Veteran starter Tim Hudson told Shea at the All-Star break that he and the rest of the club would welcome the addition of an impact player, especially a bat to bolster the lineup. There “wouldn’t be a guy in the locker room” who wouldn’t be for it,” said Hudson.
  • The Padres have not reached out to the Diamondbacks to discuss a possible new role in the organization for current Arizona GM (and former San Diego GM) Kevin Towers, reports MLB.com’s Corey Brock. “I know and like him,” said executive chairman Ron Fowler. “He has had a great relationship with many people in all areas of the Padres’ organization. That said, we have not asked for permission from the D’backs to talk to Kevin. I don’t know how this story got started.”

AL East Notes: Soriano, Castillo, Cherington, Blue Jays, Yankees

Former Orioles and Rays outfielder/DH Luke Scott has been “fired” from his KBO club after some harsh words for his coach, as Jerry Spar of WEEI.com writes.  The 36-year-old must have been causing problems for SK Wyverns, because he was carrying a productive .267/.392/.505 line in 130 plate appearances for the club. Scott split time at the DH position last year with Tampa, slashing a slightly above-average .241/.326/.415 (108 OPS+).

Here’s the latest from the AL East:

  • The Blue Jays have “checked on” recently-released outfielder Alfonso Soriano, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Soriano, who might provide a power bat while several regulars work their way back off the DL, is “mulling his option,” according to Rosenthal.

Earlier Updates

  • The Orioles will scout Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo at his upcoming workout, tweets Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. Castillo, 27, is an intriguing player to watch; as Ben Badler of Baseball America writes, he could even have an impact on a big league roster later this year.
  • Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said today that a lot of trade chatter has already happened between clubs, in an interview with WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan (audio link). He acknowledged that his struggling club is not conceding the season, but is “engaged in the conversations … to be in position to make the right decisions” at the trade deadline. But he said that the organization is not yet at the point of swapping actual trade proposals, though it is aware of what contending teams’ needs are.
  • Looking back, Cherington says that he “didn’t do a good enough job building a complete offense.” Though the team felt good about things heading into the season, says Cherington, the offensive production has been missing even though the pitching has been good enough to win.
  • The Blue Jays may prioritize upgrades in the lineup (a second or third baseman, most likely) and in the bullpen over acquiring starting pitching help, reports Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star. Of course, in spite of GM Alex Anthopoulos’s insistence that the team can add salary in the right scenario, some believe that the club lacks financial flexibility on the big league roster.
  • One reason that observers doubt the Blue Jays‘ ability to boost payroll this year is the club’s pre-season pursuit of Ervin Santana, which involved a reported plan involving salary deferment from several veterans. As Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca reports, MLBPA head Tony Clark criticized that situation, saying “it is not the players’ responsibility to sign a player or bring a player on board.” Clark said that any deferral should redound to the individual player’s ultimate benefit, but was somewhat ambiguous about what in particular concerned him in this case. “As it was brought to our attention, there were a number of conversations that were had, unfortunately with some of those players in the middle,” he said. “How that entire process was handled we don’t believe was in a fashion that was as beneficial to everyone involved as it could have been. The place we ended up suggested the players were able to make, should they decide, those deferrals in an effort to bring in those players.”
  • Yankees prospect Luis Severino has received a promotion to Double-A, as Josh Norris of Baseball America recently tweeted. The 20-year-old righty had only recently been bumped to the High-A level, where he dominated in four starts. Severino landed among the top fifty prospects in the game according to Baseball America’s mid-season update, but another New York youngster — outfielder Aaron Judge — caught the eye of ESPN.com’s Keith Law (Insider link) for his own updated top fifty.

Rusney Castillo To Hold Showcase Next Week

10:40am: Badler has a new piece on Castillo, who has put on about 20 pounds since leaving Cuba and beginning a training regimen in the Dominican Republic. Castillo is expected to sign shortly after his showcase and could even potentially help a big league club late in the season, Badler writes. His newest article provides a pair of Castillo videos — one of a batting practice session and the other a compilation of game footage.

9:54am: Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo will host a showcase for interested clubs next Saturday (July 26) in the Miami area, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN first reported (on Twitter) on Monday.

Castillo was declared a free agent by Major League Baseball last month and quickly latched on with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports. The 27-year-old Castillo has also been unblocked by the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and is therefore eligible to sign with any club.

Ben Badler of Baseball America wrote last month that Castillo isn’t the same type of impact talent we’ve seen come out of Cuba recently, but scouts believe he has Major League ability. The center fielder/right fielder stands at 5’9″ and is listed at 185 pounds, and his best tool is plus-plus speed according to Badler. He’s a right-handed hitter with a line-drive stroke that will produce more doubles and triples than homers, Badler adds, though he notes that some evaluators think of him as a fourth outfielder rather than a starting-caliber player.

We first heard about Castillo back in January, prior to the processing of the paperwork that eventually made him a free agent. The Orioles and Dodgers have been linked as teams that will scout Castillo, while Wolfson reports that the Twins are not among the teams that have interest.