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Rusney Castillo Rumors
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
- 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.
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.
Earlier today, MLBTR’s Steve Adams broke down everything you need to know entering the July 2 signing period. As it opens up officially, here’s the latest on the international market:
- Baseball America’s Ben Badler has excellent team-by-team forecasts for the 2014-15 July 2 market. In addition to covering the landing spots of some of the more notable available names, Badler also discusses teams’ differing approaches and predilections in this area of player acquisition.
- Armed with over $5MM in available pool money, the Astros expect to be “reasonably aggressive,” GM Jeff Luhnow tells MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart. “It’s a good class,” said Luhnow. “It’s deep and has got pitchers, position players. I’m excited about it. I think we’re going to add a lot of depth to our system this year.”
- Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo is expected to hold a showcase next week in Miami, Baseball America’s Ben Badler reports on Twitter. Badler notes that Castillo could make an impact down the stretch; he has previously written that the 26-year-old is viewed as a major league-caliber, but not necessarily top-flight, talent.
- Yasmani Tomas, who recently defected from Cuba, is working with agent Jay Alou, reports Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com (via Twitter). The 23-year-old outfielder will be exempt from spending limits, and is expected to draw significant interest based on his impressive power.
Cuban free agent outfielder Rusney Castillo, 26, has officially been declared a free agent and will be represented by Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports, reports Ben Badler of Baseball America. The 26-year-old is expected to hold a showcase for interested clubs soon.
Badler writes that, while Castillo is not viewed as an impact talent on the level of some of his countrymen who have broken into the bigs in recent years, he is definitely considered to have major league ability. Scouts have been split as to whether he is more likely to be an everyday option or a fourth outfielder. Castillo is a solid line-drive hitter with excellent speed, says Badler, and is said to be capable of playing center.
While it is far too early to handicap where Castillo will ultimately sign, the Orioles and Dodgers are among the clubs that have reportedly scouted him recently. As Badler notes on Twitter, the news is also notable for Castillo’s choice of representation. Roc Nation, which famously announced its entrance by taking on Robinson Cano as a client (and also represents C.C. Sabathia), appears now to be positioning itself in the Cuban market.
Freddie Freeman's eight-year, $135MM extension with the Braves is a "foreboding barometer" for the Marlins when considering a Giancarlo Stanton extension, writes Juan C. Rodriguez of the Miami Sun-Sentinel. Rodriguez points out the similarity in service time for each player, noting that one more strong season would only make it more expensive for the Fish. Stanton already has a large edge in power, though his durability could be questioned in extension talks. More from baseball's Eastern divisions…
- The Orioles will scout Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo, an industry source tells Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun. The 26-year-old has batted .319/.383/.516 over the past five seasons in Serie Nacional. The speedy Castillo comes with experience at both outfield corners as well as second and third base. The Dodgers are known to have scouted him as well, but he's yet to be cleared by OFAC to sign with a big league club.
- MASNsports.com's Steve Melewski looks at David Lough's long path to the Majors and writes that Orioles hitting coach Jim Presley has been a fan of the 28-year-old since seeing him with the Royals last year. Lough hopes to win the starting left field job in Baltimore this Spring.
- Orioles lefty Troy Patton, who is suspended for the first 25 games of the season, told Melewski that he took Adderall to improve his focus and energy at one point and called it a "stupid mistake." Patton's suspension could have an impact on Brian Matusz, Melewski continues, as the team was looking at giving him another crack as a starter. However, without Patton in the bullpen, the O's would be without their two primary lefty relievers to open the year in that case.
- The Mets are still unwilling to commit multiple years to Stephen Drew, according to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Agent Scott Boras continues to wait out the market, but it's fair to wonder if Boras will have to drag a few "mystery teams" into the mix for Drew.
The Diamondbacks competed against some of MLB's largest markets for Masahiro Tanaka but ended up as one of the finalists for the Japanese righty. FOX Sports Southwest's Jack Magruder and MLB.com's Steve Gilbert have the details from managing partner Ken Kendrick, team president Derrick Hall and GM Kevin Towers on how the Snakes courted Tanaka. Though Tanaka ultimately signed with the Yankees, Kendrick feels the D'Backs "declared ourselves as committed to making a very significant offer to someone who can be a difference-maker to our club….The agent world understands that if we like a player, we will go after him. I don't think that's a bad thing."
Here's some more from around the NL West…
- Towers reiterated that the team would still look to add "a top-of-the-rotation type guy" if one became available, and the general manager noted that more trade possibilities could open up with Tanaka now off the market. That said, Towers and Hall said they were satisfied with their current pitching options and that their pursuit of Tanaka was a special case. Magruder reported earlier today that Arizona wasn't planning to pursue other free agent starters given their high price tags.
- The Diamondbacks' current TV rights contract expires after the 2015 season, and since the team expects to earn more TV money in its next deal, Hall felt the Snakes could afford to spend extra on Tanaka. "This is not money that we had this past year or in the past," Hall said. "It's an anticipated increase in revenues. It was banking on the fact that — and it's been out there — that our television situation is going to change dramatically. With that, we were able to spread our wings a bit."
- Dodgers GM Ned Colletti and several team scouts attending a private workout with Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo, Baseball America's Ben Badler reports. Badler profiled Castillo, a right-handed hitting outfielder with experience at second and third base, last month. The 26-year-old may be months away from signing with a team, as he still to go through all of the procedural work required of Cuban players to reach the majors.
- The Dodgers were "not anywhere close" in the bidding for Tanaka and were outbid by "a decent amount" by both the Yankees and Cubs, two sources tell Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. While the Dodgers were obviously impressed enough with Tanaka to offer him a $100MM+ contract, "they're not convinced Tanaka is all that," Shaikin writes. Since they didn't see Tanaka as a true ace and the Dodgers weren't desperate for pitching, they weren't willing to get into a bidding war.
- Along these same lines, ESPN Los Angeles' Mark Saxon argues that the Dodgers don't need to pursue the likes of Matt Garza, Bronson Arroyo or other free agent starters since they could have a surplus of pitching if Chad Billingsley and Josh Beckett are healthy. Zach Lee and other minor league arms are also on hand for rotation depth.
- Veteran right-hander Brett Tomko threw for the Padres earlier this offseason, MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo reports (Twitter link). Tomko is attempting a comeback and recently told MLBTR's Zach Links that he had spoken with at least 10 other Major League clubs, as well as a few Asian teams. For more on Tomko's comeback, check out Links' interview with the 40-year-old righty.