Rusney Castillo Rumors

Red Sox Notes: Lucchino, Rusney, Hanley

Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe conducted a Q&A with Red Sox CEO/president Larry Lucchino over the weekend, and the two discussed a number of issues with what has been an uninspiring roster for much of the season. Shaugnessy notes early on, before getting to the Q&A, that it seems that Lucchino’s role has diminished given his involvement in the building of a new Rhode Island stadium for the club’s Triple-A affiliate and his role in Boston’s bid for the 2024 Olympics. Lucchino, however, denies that he’s less involved than in previous years. “I’ve had to throw myself into Pawtucket quite a bit because of [PawSox owner] Jim Skeffington’s death,” said Lucchino. “…It’s part of my Red Sox responsibility. The Olympics take a very small amount of my time. They asked me to take a larger role, but I demurred.”

Some roster-related highlights from the Q&A, as well as a couple other notes pertaining to the 2013 champs…

  • Lucchino said he understands the comparisons that are being made between the Hanley Ramirez/Pablo Sandoval signings and the Carl Crawford signing/Adrian Gonzalez extension, but the team certainly never intended to duplicate the aggressive philosophy they showed in 2011. Asked if the Red Sox need to question their evaluation skills in light of those signings as well as the Rick Porcello extension and John Lackey trade, Lucchino replied, “We’re not immune to second-guessing ourselves, but I do think a little more water needs to run underneath the bridge before you can effectively evaluate some of these most recent transactions.”
  • Shaughnessy pressed a bit on the Lackey trade in particular, noting that both of the players received in that deal — Joe Kelly and Allen Craig — are now in the minor leagues. Lucchino admitted that the trade looks dismal: “It certainly looks like that deal didn’t result in the kind of gains we thought we’d have in the major leagues. But both of those guys still play for the [Pawtucket] Red Sox and no one has given up on the pitching contributions that Joe Kelly can make in the future.” This is likely reading too much into the comment, but I find it interesting that he didn’t voice a similar vote of confidence in Craig.
  • Lucchino voiced the same confidence in GM Ben Cherington and manager John Farrell that Red Sox owner John Henry has previously expressed. He also repeatedly said he’s yet to wave the white flag on the 2015 season, and the team will reassess more at the tail end of July.
  • In an interview with WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford, Red Sox vice president of player personnel took exception to the narrative that Rusney Castillo was signed based on workouts as opposed to in-game experience. Baird explains that the Red Sox saw Castillo in international play as well as on video from Cuba. Additionally, while owner John Henry has noted in the past that missing out on Jose Abreu may have played a role in Boston’s aggressive pursuit of Castillo, Baird says that the Red Sox did their homework on Castillo. While Castillo certainly hasn’t performed at the level of Abreu, or even fellow countryman Yasmany Tomas, I’d add that it’s still early in his contract, and he’s been slowed by injuries as well.
  • The Red Sox were originally optimistic about Hanley Ramirez’s hand after X-rays came back negative, but as Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald wrote yesterday, Ramirez is traveling back to Boston to receive an MRI due to persistent discomfort. Ramirez was hit by a line-drive while running the bases last Wednesday, and manager John Farrell told him that the pain worsened over the weekend. A trip to the disabled list is possible, writes Mastrodonato.

East Notes: Syndergaard, Duda, Castillo, Red Sox

While neither pitcher toed the rubber in tonight’s tilt, Nationals reliever Aaron Barrett and veteran Phillies starter Aaron Harang played an interesting role in the action by squaring off in a notable pre-game National Anthem stand-off. Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post provides a nice account of the duel, which lasted until after the first pitch was thrown and ultimately mirrored the game itself in producing a tightly-fought victory for Washington.

Here are the latest notes from the eastern seaboard:

  • The Mets continue to fall back in the standings, but have at least received solid initial returns on prized righty Noah Syndergaard, who was something of a tough-luck loser tonight but owns a 3.63 ERA with 16 strikeouts and five walks in 17 1/3 innings. As Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News reports, the team intends to keep Syndergaard on the active roster when righty Dillon Gee is activated this weekend. In fact, the club may utilize a six-man rotation of some kind for a stretch. That’s good news for Syndergaard, who profiles as a likely Super Two qualifier if he can stick in the big leagues the rest of the way.
  • One of the few bright spots for the Mets on the offensive side of the equation is first baseman Lucas Duda, as Craig Edwards of Fangraphs explains. Duda’s big numbers last year came in spite of struggles against left-handed pitching, but Edwards writes that his overall body of work in that area, including excellent early numbers this year, show promise that he can be a strong everyday option at first.
  • Red Sox outfielder Rusney Castillo told reporters before today’s game that he does not expect to be a savior for the scuffling club, as John Tomase of WEEI.com reports“Obviously, I’m very excited, but right now it’s just important to keep in mind the job at hand and try to keep the same momentum I had at Triple-A,” said Castillo. His first appearance in 2015 was not a memorable one for him or his team, but Castillo does look like he could be an important piece as Boston tries to work a turnaround.
  • While the Red Sox outfield logjam perhaps no longer holds quite the promise of abundance it once did, managing the roster remains a challenge — and a story to watch as the trade market begins to take form. As Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com reports on Twitter, manager John Farrell says that he plans to rotate Castillo in at both center and right in some kind of time share with Mookie Betts and Shane Victorino. All three hit right-handed, as does left fielder Hanley Ramirez, seemingly leaving at least some role for the switch-hitting Daniel Nava, particularly with Ramirez and Victorino nursing injuries.

Red Sox Promote Rusney Castillo

The Red Sox have made the long awaited move to bring up outfielder Rusney Castillo, according to multiple reports. He will take the roster spot of Jackie Bradley Jr., who has been optioned back to Triple-A, and be in the lineup tonight.

Castillo, 27, received a brief promotion late last year after signing a seven-year, $72.5MM deal with Boston in late August. His first forty MLB plate appearances went well — .333/.400/.528 with two home runs and three stolen bases — but an outfield logjam and minor injury this spring had left Castillo patrolling the grass for Pawtucket in 2015.

Now that he has returned to health and begun putting up solid numbers again at Triple-A, Castillo was the obvious choice to be called upon in hopes of spurring a surprisingly listless offense. Boston’s most robust batting line, that of Hanley Ramirez, does not even crack an .800 OPS, and a number of regulars and reserves have not quite lived up to expectations.

In terms of contract status, the move doesn’t mean as much as it would for other players who lack significant big league experience. Though no public reports seem to confirm the point, it is likely that his deal includes a provision allowing him to reach free agency when it ends, regardless of service time. In any event, the deal gives him the right to opt out after the 2019 season (though he’d have to forego a $13.5MM payday for the following year to do so).

In terms of impact, then, the call-up is notable more for where it could take the Boston front office the rest of the way. If Castillo looks like an everyday player, and Mookie Betts and Hanley Ramirez aren’t sidetracked by injury, then the status of Shane Victorino and/or Daniel Nava could increasingly be in question. Either player could theoretically be traded, but Victorino is expensive and Nava has not hit at all this year. And, of course, the Red Sox have already dealt with the most significant outfield overcrowding issue by outrighting Allen Craig.



East Notes: Phillies, Franco, Red Sox, Victorino

Phillies tickets sales are at their lowest since the opening of Citizen’s Bank Park, writes Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Brookover wonders if the fans will return when the team begins to turn the corner in a few years. Philadelphia has a history of punishing noncompetitive teams. Other franchises like the Nationals, Indians, and Braves have seen a much more tepid fan response to winning. For what it’s worth, I’m fairly confident that ticket sales will return to previous levels once the team reaches the postseason.

  • The Phillies will remain patient with top prospect Maikel Franco, writes Jake Kaplan of the Philadelphia Inquirer. With the major league club scuffling and Franco off to a quick start (.343/.389/.537 at Triple-A), there is some pressure to get a look at him in the majors. Service time considerations and the performance of Cody Asche will affect when Franco is activated. Unlike the Kris Bryant situation, Franco appeared to need further development during spring training. It doesn’t look like the Phillies will keep Franco in the minors purely for service time considerations.
  • The early returns from the Red Sox rotation have been bad, writes Joel Sherman of the NY Post. Boston starters have a collective 5.46 ERA entering today (and Justin Masterson is off to a poor start). The shaky performances have strained a “dubious” bullpen. Given the deep farm system, the team remains poised to acquire a top trade target like Cole Hamels.
  • Boston has placed outfielder Shane Victorino on the disabled list with a hamstring strain, writes Jeff Seidel for MLB.com. The club has recalled Matt Barnes in a corresponding move. For those wondering why Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo wasn’t called upon, he’s currently rehabbing a right shoulder injury. He’s expected to return to the Triple-A lineup next week.

AL East Notes: Castillo, Workman, Bogaerts, Reimold, Jays

The Red Sox have placed Rusney Castillo on the Minor League disabled list due to a shoulder injury suffered in a diving  attempt for a fly ball, writes Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald. Manager John Farrell said Castillo will be out for “a little bit of time” and downplayed the possibility of the injury being a long-term problem. However, as Mastrodonato points out, injuries have already followed Castillo through his brief time with the Red Sox. A thumb injury ended his Arizona Fall League season, an oblique injury sidelined him for a portion of Spring Training, and he’ll now miss an unknown amount of time due to this shoulder injury. Farrell didn’t want to say that Castillo is predisposed to injuries, but the manager did acknowledge that Castillo has an aggressive style of play, seemingly suggesting that it does increase the chance for minor injuries.

More on the Red Sox and their division…

  • Red Sox right-hander Brandon Workman is headed to see Dr. James Andrews to get a second opinion on his ailing right elbow, tweets CSN New England’s Sean McAdam. The thought at this time, according to McAdam, is that surgery will not be required. Workman was placed on the Major League 15-day DL yesterday in a move that may seem curious because he’d been optioned to Triple-A at the end of Spring Training. However, via NESN.com’s Ricky Doyle, Farrell said that Workman’s elbow flared up in his final spring outing. Had he gone on the Minor League DL, I’d imagine that Workman and his agents could’ve theoretically filed a grievance, stating that he was optioned and placed on the DL in the Minors to prevent him from accumulating service time.
  • In more injury news for the Sox, Xander Bogaerts is being sent to have an MRI on his right knee, tweets the Boston Globe’s Alex Speier. Bogaerts injured the knee running the bases last night and was swapped out of the lineup for Brock Holt, who is filling in at short for Boston tonight.
  • Orioles outfielder Nolan Reimold is suing Johns Hopkins Hospital for negligent medical care, alleging that he was cleared to return to baseball too soon following neck surgery, according to Justin Fenton, Meredith Cohn and Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. Reimold underwent surgery to repair a C5-C6 disk herniation in his neck in 2012 and was cleared to return to baseball seven months later. However, Reimold continually experienced pain, and follow-up x-rays at a Florida medical facility later that year showed that the bones had not yet fused, according to Reimold’s suit. He had “revision surgery” that July after playing 40 games and posting a career-low OPS+ of 59. Reimold’s suit claims that his doctor “negligently misinterpreted the film and/or failed to consider the official radiology report.”
  • Blue Jays players feel that the Rogers Centre’s new artificial turf is slowing down ground-balls a considerable amount, writes Shi Davidi of Sportsnet. Jose Bautista told Davidi that it “feels like no balls are going to get to the wall” unless they’re one-hoppers, and he felt that the turf may also impact players when running. Rays skipper Kevin Cash said that from his vantage point, “It appeared as if the ball was never getting to you.” Bautista feels that the turf will change over time as the material settles, but I’d imagine this won’t be the only time we hear about this topic in the early stages of the season.

AL East Notes: Wieters, Castillo, Sanchez, Jays, Rays

The Orioles got good news on Matt Wieters today, whose elbow X-ray came back clean, as Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun tweets. While his new UCL will obviously handled with care, that is good news for the top catcher in next year’s free agent class.

Here’s more from the AL East:

  • Red Sox outfielder Rusney Castillo still hopes to be able to get enough work in this spring to be ready to make the Opening Day roster, as Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald reports. But with the time he has lost to an oblique strain, the outstanding play of Mookie Betts, and the team’s otherwise less flexible group of plausible big league outfielders, it seems that a stint at Triple-A is certainly possible — in spite of his huge salary. Castillo says he “wouldn’t feel bad about that at all if that’s the decision that’s made.” As Lauber notes, Boston’s outfield situation remains a fascinating story line as the season fast approaches.
  • Another interesting situation to watch — the Blue Jays staff makeup — is gaining some clarity, as Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star reports. Aaron Sanchez is highly likely to open in the rotation, according to manager John Gibbons, with Marco Estrada and Daniel Norris still in the mix for the last starting spot. Meanwhile, it appears that fellow youngster Miguel Castro is headed for a slot in the pen. Those much-hyped arms all saw their timelines accelerated when fellow young right-hander Marcus Stroman went down to an ACL tear; he had successful surgery today.
  • Meanwhile, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos said today on The Fan 590 that the club could still look around for another option at first, as Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca tweets. The team currently appears set to utilize Justin Smoak and, potentially, Daric Barton at the position when Edwin Encarnacion is in the DH slot. Given Encarnacion’s back issues, that could be more often than not in the season’s early going. The team’s decisions regarding catcher Dioner Navarro could also factor into things, as he could potentially take a bench role if he is not dealt.
  • Rays owner Stuart Sternberg said today that he is still not seeing progress on stadium talks, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Emphasizing that he sees a future for the organization in the greater Tampa area, Sternberg nevertheless expressed frustration with opposition that has been encountered from the St. Petersburg City Council regarding issues relating to the team’s quest to find a new park.

East Notes: Orioles, Position Changes, Castillo

A number of Orioles players worked temporary jobs in the offseason when they were minor-leaguers, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun writes. Caleb Joseph rode a scooter to deliver packages for UPS, Darren O’Day worked as a bouncer (wearing five T-shirts one on top of the other to look more intimidating, he says), and Miguel Gonzalez worked early mornings in a grocery store stocking shelves. Minor-league salaries are, for the most part, very low. “We could always order fast food because fast-food restaurants would be the only thing open after the game and guys would stand by the cash register and ask for your change,” O’Day says of some of his old teammates in the Angels system. “You’d give them two dimes and a nickel, whatever you got back, and after we all ordered, they would go to the back of the line and order whatever they could with the change. You don’t make a lot of money.” Here are more notes from the East divisions.

  • The Mets are gambling on Wilmer Flores, who played no shortstop at all in the minors in 2012 or 2013, as their starting shortstop next year, and they aren’t the only team hoping a position change works out, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. Across town, the Yankees are hoping Stephen Drew works out at second base. In Boston, Hanley Ramirez is trying his hand at the outfield, although he could eventually wind up at designated hitter when David Ortiz departs.
  • The Red Sox still aren’t quite sure what they have in outfielder Rusney Castillo, but the early returns are promising, and Castillo himself is trying to look forward despite the twisting path he took to the big leagues, WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford writes. “Obviously, it goes without saying that leaving family behind is very difficult,” says Castillo. “But once I made the decision, at least for me personally, I didn’t look back. No regrets. It was easy for me to turn the page.” The Red Sox signed Castillo last August after he defected from Cuba the previous November, and he made his way to the Majors by the end of the season. Now, though, as he deals with an oblique strain, he says he isn’t worried about whether the Red Sox have him start the season in the big leagues or in the minors. “If that’s what it’s got to be, that’s what it’s got to be. I’m just worrying playing and continuing to get reps and reps wherever they may come,” he says.

AL East Notes: Castillo, Yoon, Hoffman, Yankees

Rusney Castillo‘s strained oblique may cause him to miss a bit of Spring Training time, yet the injury isn’t considered to be particularly serious.  Still, WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford posits that this setback might convince the Red Sox to give Castillo some extra minor league preparation time at the start of the season and give the center field job to Mookie Betts.  Castillo told Bradford that he would be open to being in the minors if the team felt it necessary, and his long-term contract makes him secure about his role in Boston’s plans.  “Of course there is a degree of comfort in that that I’m going be here for a while,” Castillo said.  “At the same time, if you don’t want to be in the minor leagues ramp it up and work harder to not be there.”

Here’s some more from around the AL East…

  • Orioles executive VP Dan Duquette spoke to reporters (including MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko) about the team’s release of Suk-min Yoon earlier today and Yoon’s subsequent return to the KBO’s Kia Tigers.  Duquette confirmed that Yoon gave up the $4.15MM still owed to him under the Orioles contract in order to make the deal happen.  “The good part of this is that this didn’t work, but we were able to correct the mistake, if you will, and we have that money available to invest in other players,” Duquette said.
  • After a tumultuous year that has included Tommy John surgery, being drafted by the Blue Jays and then mentioned in trade rumors to acquire Duquette as Toronto’s new team president, Jeff Hoffman tells Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi that he is looking forward to just “putting on a uniform again” once he’s finished his rehab work.  Hoffman provides a progress report on his recovery from his surgery last May.
  • After years of struggling to find reliable left-handed relievers, the Yankees look to have solved the problem with Andrew Miller, Chasen Shreve and Justin Wilson all in the fold, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes.  Ironically, this comes at a time when there are only a few standout left-handed hitters amongst the Yankees’ AL East rivals, Sherman notes.

AL East Notes: Victorino, Pedroia, Pentecost, Blue Jays, ARod

Red Sox manager John Farrell says the club will start veteran Shane Victorino in right field if he’s healthy, tweets Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. Farrell added that Victorino is “full go,” indicating that only a setback could change those plans. With Hanley Ramirez the obvious starter in left field, that could mean Mookie Betts and Rusney Castillo will compete for the center field job. Others like Allen Craig, Jackie Bradley, Brock Holt, and Daniel Nava appear thoroughly blocked in the outfield. Here’s more from the AL East.

  • Dustin Pedroia is healthy and ready to go, reports Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston. My take: a healthy Pedroia means that Betts and Holt are also blocked in the infield. Should everybody remain healthy, some kind of trade looks all but inevitable. Several players like Betts, Castillo, and Holt still have options, so the club can stow some major league quality talent at Triple-A if necessary.
  • The Rays lost great talent this offseason, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Executive Andrew Friedman tops the list of 13 impactful losses. His departure is mitigated by the presence of Matt Silverman. Rounding out the top five poignant losses include Ben Zobrist, Joe Maddon, Joel Peralta, and bench coach Dave Martinez.
  • Blue Jays top draft pick Max Pentecost has undergone shoulder surgery, reports Ben Nicholson-Smith of SportsNet.ca. Dr. James Andrews performed the procedure. Pentecost, a catcher, is expected to resume throwing in about three months.
  • The Blue Jays continue to be faced with three big questions, writes Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com. They include the identity of their closer, second baseman, and fifth starter. Brett Cecil and Aaron Sanchez are expected to compete for ninth inning duties, although Sanchez could factor in the rotation battle too. Other candidates to start include Marco Estrada and prospect Daniel Norris. Second base will probably go to Maicer Izturis, Ryan Goins, or prospect Devon Travis.
  • The Yankees are right to allow beleaguered veteran Alex Rodriguez to attend camp, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. It’s surprising to see other writers suggest the club swallow the $61MM remaining on Rodriguez’s contract without at least giving him a chance to provide some value. If he fails to remain healthy, the club can also recoup part of the money via insurance.

AL Central Notes: Kluber, Arcia, Castillo, Tomas

Here’s the latest from around the AL Central…

  • As far as Corey Kluber knows, his representatives haven’t had any talks with the Indians about an extension, the Cy Young Award winner told reporters (including Zack Meisel of the Northeast Ohio Media Group).  “That’s not my job to worry about that,” Kluber said.  “My job is to go out there and pitch. I have agents that can handle that stuff for me when the time comes. My job is to get prepared to play this season.”  Kluber is one of the game’s best bargains, as he’ll pitch the 2015 season on a near-league minimum salary, though he’ll be in line for a large raise when he is arbitration-eligible next winter.  Cleveland has him under team control through the 2018 campaign.
  • The Twins were granted a fourth option year on Oswaldo Arcia, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports, so they’re in no danger of losing the outfielder on the waiver wire if he can’t find a place on the Major League roster.  Eduardo Nunez and Jordan Schafer are the only out-of-options players on the Minnesota roster.
  • Tigers assistant GM Al Avila told Mlive.com’s James Schmehl that the club had interest in Rusney Castillo and Yasmany Tomas and discussed the Tigers’ pursuit of the two high-profile Cuban free agents.  Detroit checked in on Tomas though the club only had a moderate interest.  “We liked him a little bit, but I’d say not to the same degree as Castillo,” Avila said. “We liked him. But, unlike Castillo, where we got involved in negotiations, we didn’t with Tomas. We didn’t see him as a fit.”  While the Tigers progressed to the talking stages with Castillo, however, his price tag escalated beyond the team’s comfort zone.
  • For more Detroit baseball news, check out this collection of Tigers Notes from earlier today.