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Rusney Castillo Rumors
There has been a lot of chatter regarding 27-year-old Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo. (Read here for some reactions to his well-attended recent workout, which seems to have increased his standing quite a bit around the league.) We’ll keep tabs on the latest right here:
- The Tigers, Red Sox, and Giants are still in the mix for Castillo, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Meanwhile, the Cubs, Yankees, and Phillies are not expected to place high bids for him.
- Bidding is strong, and could well reach or even exceed the $55MM level, according to a tweet from Sahadev Sharma of Baseball Prospectus. The Cubs appear not to be interested at that level, he adds.
- The Braves are “not in the bidding right now” for Castillo, tweets David O’Brien of the Atlanta-Journal Constitution. Atlanta has been noted as a possible suitor in the past.
- Six clubs are seen as viable landing spots for Castillo at this time, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (echoing, in some cases, earlier reports): the Red Sox, Tigers, Phillies, Cubs, Yankees, and Mariners. Castillo could sign a deal as soon as the end of the week, Heyman adds. We’ve heard conflicting reports on Philadelphia’s interest, in particular, and one executive tells Heyman that he believes the team could be attempting to downplay its interest while working to ink Castillo.
Here’s the latest on Cuban free agent Rusney Castillo, who has drawn plenty of attention from teams looking to add a bat this year and into the future …
- Several competitors believe that the Phillies are the favorites to land Castillo, George A. King III of the New York Post reports, though that is not a universally shared belief. While Castillo is actively considering offers, there is presently no known timetable for him to choose a team and finalize a contract, King adds. Sources tell King that the contractual guarantee will likely fall in the $40MM to $55MM range.
- Castillo is “moving quickly” toward choosing a club, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald reports on Twitter. As Lauber notes, the Red Sox are one club that appears to be strongly pursuing the 27-year-old outfielder/infielder. Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com reported early this morning that Boston was intrigued by Castillo’s skillset and was continuing to pursue him despite the recent additions of Yoenis Cespedes and Allen Craig.
- The Phillies appear to be a “longshot” to add Castillo, reports Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, who also notes that a decision seems to be close. Though Philadelphia GM Ruben Amero Jr. is in contact with Castillo’s representatives, Salisbury cites sources who question just how interested the club is in beating the market for Castillo.
- Responding to a poll this morning, MLBTR readers say that the Yankees and Red Sox are the leading candidates to land Castillo, with “mystery team” and the Tigers the next most likely destinations.
Rob Manfred will make a fine commissioner, notes Peter Gammons of Gammonsdaily.com. Among the many reasons are his familiarity with the issues of the game. Those include upcoming PED news, growing dissent between small and large market clubs, and the upcoming legal battle between the Orioles and Nationals over MASN revenues. Gammons concludes that the game would benefit most if the owners put some effort into helping Manfred settle into the job.
- The Marlins have a seriously bad reputation when it comes to dealing away their stars in fire sales. According to Gammons, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria knows that a big brand can go a long way to improving attendance. With Lebron James back in Cleveland, Giancarlo Stanton is the top name in Miami sports. This is the reason why the Marlins have rebuffed all offers for Stanton.
- The Rockies are on the hook for a combined $167MM between Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. This trade deadline included rumors that the club would consider dealing one or both of their stars, but their season ending injuries will probably prevent any offseason deals. Gammons notes that the rarefied air in Colorado can make recovery difficult.
- One talent evaluator compares Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to a center field capable Ron Gant. The Yankees are among the biggest players for Castillo, but they have to contend with a hefty luxury tax penalty. Because Alex Rodriguez will be back on the books, the Yankees will pay a tax in the range of 40% to 50% if they add Castillo. As Gammons notes, a $50MM contract would come with a $20MM to $25MM tax.
- The league is concerned about two things related to Cuban imports. The defection process is morally troubling, as it supports human trafficking. The other issue is the diet of Cuban players. The stress fractures that have sidelined Jorge Soler and Jose Iglesias could be related to calcium deficiency. According to one insider, his team will be monitoring the “bone structure and diet” of their Cuban acquisitions.
- Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria thinks incoming commissioner Rob Manfred will be an independent decision-maker and won’t just follow in Bud Selig’s footsteps. In particular, Manfred could help hasten the pace of games and make other improvements to help appeal to younger fans. Manfred could also tackle the issue of competitive balance and could make changes to the draft.
- Morosi notes that David Price‘s home debut with the Tigers tonight will also mark the first time he’s ever squared off against Felix Hernandez.
- Cuban free agent 2B/OF Rusney Castillo could get a contract in the range of six years and $50MM, with the Phillies, Cubs, Tigers, Yankees and Red Sox as the main bidders. If a team signs him before the end of August, he’ll be eligible to play in the postseason. (Here’s the latest on Castillo.)
FRIDAY, 8:22pm: One factor in Castillo’s possible impact on the current season is his visa situation, Sherman notes (Twitter links). He has yet to obtain a work visa, which he will need by the end of the month in order to achieve postseason eligibility.
3:50pm: Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that Castillo and his reps at Roc Nation began looking over offers today. He points out that interested contenders will be urgent to sign him in order to get him on a pro roster in advance of Aug. 31 (players acquired after that date are ineligible for the postseason). However, Sherman notes that several non-contenders are interested in Castillo as well due to his status as a 27-year-old that won’t require draft pick compensation. Sherman lists the Yankees, Red Sox and Tigers as “major players” for Castillo (all links to Twitter).
7:59am: A source with knowledge of the situation told George A. King III of the New York Post earlier this week that Castillo has already received offers from some clubs and will sift through all of his offers this weekend, with a goal of making a decision next week. As King notes, if Castillo is to play in the Majors this season, he will need to sign quickly, as he’ll likely require at least a brief tour through the minors before joining a Major League club.
WEDNESDAY: 7:41pm: The Red Sox are “expected to be aggressive” on Castillo, tweets Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald, who also hears that Castillo will begin narrowing the field to the highest bidders in the coming days.
5:00pm: Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo is said to be wrapping up his one-on-one workouts with interested teams and will narrow the field of interested teams in the coming days, reports MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez (on Twitter). Not surprisingly, Sanchez notes that the field will be narrowed to the highest bidders.
Castillo, 27, held a showcase last month that drew scouts from 28 of the 30 Major League teams, and attendees left with generally favorable impressions. Reports from the showcase explained that Castillo showed surprising power, speed that was perceived as anywhere from “very good” to “outstanding” (depending on the scout) and an average throwing arm that some felt was his worst tool.
The Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies, Mariners, Orioles and Cubs were all said to have private workouts scheduled for Castillo, and the Astros were said to be trying to schedule one as well. Sanchez tweets that the Tigers have shown interest as well, though it’s not certain to what degree Detroit is interested. The White Sox, Giants, Blue Jays and Braves have all been listed as potential suitors since Castillo’s showcase as well, while the Twins are said to find his price tag too high. At this time, Sanchez tweets that there’s no favorite, as the field is “wide open,” but that will likely change in the days ahead as Castillo and his representatives at Roc Nation Sports weigh their offers. (Speaking of Roc Nation, fans interested in Castillo can check out a new highlight video of his showcase that was produced by Roc Nation and set to music by – who else? — Jay-Z.)
The Rockies are in the midst of an awful 45-70 season, but a strong offseason could help turn them around, Paul Swydan of FanGraphs writes. Swydan argues that the Rockies should let Michael Cuddyer, Jorge De La Rosa and Brett Anderson depart via free agency, then spend the savings on Russell Martin and on a couple of ground-ball-throwing, mid-grade free agent pitchers, like Justin Masterson and Francisco Liriano. Non-tendering Jhoulys Chacin and dealing for Jon Niese would also help improve the Rockies’ rotation. Here’s more from around the big leagues.
- Mariners utilityman Willie Bloomquist will miss the remainder of the season with a microfracture in his right knee, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times tweets. Bloomquist is making $2.8MM in the first year of a two-year deal, and he hit .278/.297/.346 in 136 plate appearances this season.
- Austin Jackson‘s departure in the David Price deal could make the Tigers especially likely to sign Cuban 2B/OF Rusney Castillo, MLB.com’s Jason Beck tweets. The addition of Price brought them another top-flight starting pitcher but created an opportunity to improve in their outfield. Castillo has also been connected to a huge number of other teams, holding private workouts for many of them.
- Chris Colabello may be near the end of the line with the Twins, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press writes. The Twins recently optioned Colabello to Triple-A Rochester, and after a .229/.282/.380 performance in 220 plate appearances with them this season, he could soon be designated for assignment. Colabello is a great story — he spent seven seasons playing independent baseball before signing with the Twins as a 28-year-old and making it to the big leagues at 29. But as a 1B/OF/DH type who hasn’t hit much, he’s struggled to get established in the big leagues.
- GM Sandy Alderson says the Mets‘ recent moves, including designating Chris Young for assignment and replacing him by promoting Matt den Dekker, do not suggest that his team is giving up on the 2014 season, Marc Carig of Newsday reports. The Mets will find playing time for den Dekker and more of it for Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Wilmer Flores. “I’ve tried to be honest with myself about that,” says Alderson. “And I have not concluded that this is a step back from competition.” The Mets remain on the outer fringes of the playoff race, seven games back of the last Wild Card spot. Of course, given that Young, for example, was hitting .205/.283/.346 before he was designated, it’s not likely that someone like den Dekker is even a downgrade, and Niewenhuis and Flores are supplanting underperforming players (Eric Young Jr. and Ruben Tejada) as well.
AUG. 9: The Yankees are ready to begin negotiating with Castillo, who worked out at their minor league complex Friday, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. The Yankees would want to use Castillo as a second baseman, with the outfield as a backup plan, King writes.
AUG. 6: While touring Wrigley Field on vacation, Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith learned that the Cubs held a private workout for Castillo today (Twitter link).
AUG. 3: Castillo’s workout for the Mariners has been postponed and is expected to be rescheduled, tweets Shannon Drayer of 710 ESPN.
JULY 29: 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.
JULY 28, 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.
After rebuilding the Red Sox in time for their 2013 championship season, GM Ben Cherington has to remake the team yet again, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes. One item on Cherington’s plate as the Red Sox finish their season is sorting through a number of young players, particularly in the rotation. “Right now we’re going to use the next several weeks to find out about the guys we have,” says Cherington. “We have 8-10 young starting pitchers who are here, at Triple A, and Double A. … In the offseason I’m sure we’ll look at starting pitching alternatives, whether it’s free agents or trades, and see what’s available to us. But we need guys in the organization to step up.” With the trades of Jon Lester, John Lackey and Jake Peavy, the Red Sox’ rotation now includes less experienced players in Brandon Workman, Allen Webster, Rubby De La Rosa and Joe Kelly. The Red Sox also have a high waiver priority due to their record, which makes them a team to watch as August progresses. Here are more notes from around the AL East.
- Allen Craig, who was acquired in the Lackey deal, has already landed on the disabled list with an ankle injury, but the Red Sox are not worried about him in the long term, Alex Speier of WEEI.com writes. “There’s no concern about whether he’s going to be OK to play and feel good and be completely healthy,” says Cherington. “It’s just a question of making sure that we’re not putting him in a position where he’s compromised and maybe is at risk of doing something else by making up for what’s going on in his foot.”
- The Orioles will not pursue Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com writes. They’ve scouted him and they like his talent, but they think he’ll be too expensive to sign.
- The list of potential Yankees September call-ups includes 2014 second-round pick Jacob Lindgren, Brendan Kuty of NJ.com writes. The reliever dominated the low minors, striking out 17 batters in 7 1/3 innings at Class A+ Tampa, and he’s currently with Double-A Trenton.
- Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler isn’t bitter about missing out on the Padres GM job, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News writes. The job ultimately went to A.J. Preller of the Rangers. “Oddly, I’m not upset,” says Eppler. “Maybe if I did something and had a misstep, I would be disappointed in myself. I think the baseball gods didn’t feel like it was my time to leave the Yankees.”
The Yankees’ playoff chances may hinge on a game of catch that will take place today at Yankee Stadium. General manager Brian Cashman confirmed to George A. King III of the New York Post that Masahiro Tanaka will throw today for the first time since a slight UCL tear was discovered in the righty’s throwing elbow. If Tanaka feels good after his session, he’ll continue his rehab process with an eye towards a return in September. If he doesn’t feel right, Tanaka may have to undergo Tommy John surgery and could be in jeopardy of missing the entire 2015 season.
Here’s some more about the Bronx Bombers…
- The trainer for Christopher Torres, a 16-year-old Dominican shortstop, made a complaint to the commissioner’s office claiming the Yankees backed out of an agreed-upon $2.1MM bonus with the youngster, Baseball America’s Ben Badler reports. The Yankees claim no deal was ever reached, while Torres’ trainer says that by not informing Torres of their decision until June, the shortstop was left unsigned with no teams had room left in their international budget. Badler goes into great detail about the case and the gray area created when teams agree to sign international players months in advance of the July 2 signing period, which is against MLB rules but is very common around the league.
- The Phillies asked for Aaron Judge in exchange for Marlon Byrd, according to Bill Madden of the New York Daily News. Needless to say, the Yankees balked at giving up Judge, who was drafted 32nd overall in 2013 and is ranked by MLB.com as the fifth-best prospect in the Yankees’ farm system.
- With the Yankees struggling at the plate and facing questions at third base and DH for 2015, Newsday’s David Lennon writes that Alex Rodriguez would’ve been a useful piece on the roster right now. Had A-Rod worked out a 125-150 game suspension last August instead of appealing and ending up suspended for all of 2014, he would already have been eligible to return, Lennon notes.
- Also from King’s piece, Rusney Castillo‘s private workout with the Yankees will take place on Friday. The Cuban outfielder also has an upcoming session with the Mariners, and he has already worked out for the Phillies and Red Sox. King hears from sources that Castillo could sign for between $35-45MM, which is a step up from the $25-35MM we last heard was Castillo’s likely price range, though given the heavy interest in his services and the big-market teams involved, it isn’t surprising his price tag is going up.
As we explained yesterday, the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline does not spell the end of wheeling and dealing. Several teams are expected to continue shopping over the coming month as well. Here are some notes that relate to the upcoming August trade period:
- Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer could miss much of the rest of the regular season with a stress fracture of his right hand, tweets Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star. Though he is expected to avoid surgery, Hosmer could be out for up to six weeks. It would not be surprising to see the club look to add a first baseman to hold down the fort in his absence.
- Paul Maholm of the Dodgers has suffered a torn ACL and will miss the rest of the season, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports ( Twitter links). That only serves to increase the team’s need for rotation depth; though Maholm was operating out of the pen, he had been perhaps the likeliest option to step into a starting role if the struggling Dan Haren was demoted.
- Angels hurler Tyler Skaggs left in the middle of a no-hit bid Thursday with a flexor tendon strain in his left forearm, as Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times explains. Skaggs has already been placed on the 15-day DL, and the team will surely exercise caution with the young starter, as forearm strains have been linked to more significant elbow injuries. Though the Halos can fill his spot in the immediate term by keeping Hector Santiago in the rotation, the injury leaves even more questions about the team’s overall starting pitching depth. With a two-month pennant race still to come, Los Angeles will likely take a hard look at the market for arms.
- Before he was dealt to the Nationals, the Orioles made an effort to acquire Indians infielder Asdrubal Cabrera, reports Roch Kubatko of MASN.com. Presumably, Baltimore would have utilized him as the Nationals will, at second base, which indicates some likelihood of the club exploring an alternative over the coming month.
- Similarly, the Athletics opened pre-deadline conversations with the Phillies regarding Jimmy Rollins, but talks did not progress, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. Like the O’s, the A’s could still be looking for a middle-infield addition.
- After making several deadline deals, the Diamondbacks expect to have more work to do in the coming month, reports Zach Buchanan of the Arizona Republic. While he is not sure if any deals will be consummated, GM Kevin Towers says he anticipates that claims will be made on several players. Among the possible chips left in Arizona are second baseman Aaron Hill and several relievers, though Towers says it will take an “overpay” to pry loose any of the club’s pen arms, as Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona reports.
- The Red Sox remain interested in Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo despite adding Yoenis Cespedes and Allen Craig at the trade deadline, reports WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. While the club is expected to face stiff competition in the bidding, it just held a private workout for Castillo. If he goes to the non-contending Red Sox, it would certainly increase market demand for some of the pricey outfielders who stayed put at the deadline (such as Alex Rios of the Rangers and Marlon Byrd of the Phillies).