Rusney Castillo Rumors

This Date In Transactions History: 8/23/15

The non-waiver trade deadline has come and gone but there are still plenty of moves that go down in the month of August.  Historically, we’ve seen some significant transactions go down on the date of August 23rd.  Could we see some moves of note today on MLB Trade Rumors?  While we wait to find out, let’s take a look back at the last few years..

  • One year ago today, the Red Sox signed Cuban sensation Rusney Castillo.  The seven-year deal could be worth up to $72.5MM in total, assuming that the outfielder does not opt out before 2020.  The buzz around Castillo was building momentum all through the summer, but the size of the deal took many around baseball by surprise.  Owner John Henry has acknowledged that missing out on Jose Abreu may have played a role in Boston’s aggressive pursuit of Castillo, but Red Sox exec Allard Baird recently defended the signing and stressed that Boston did its homework on Castillo.  The 28-year-old hasn’t lived up to the expectations of the contract so far but he has looked strong since his latest recall from Triple-A.
  • On this date in 2013, the Nationals sent David DeJesus to the Rays for a player to be named later.  Of course, DeJesus’ stint in Washington amounted to little more than a layover.  The Nats acquired DeJesus in a waiver deal with the Cubs on August 19th and sent him packing just days later.  In total, DeJesus went 0-for-3 with a walk in his brief tenure with the Nationals.  DeJesus would enjoy a lengthier stint with the Rays before a late July deal this season sent him to the Angels.
  • On the same date as the DeJesus deal, the Nationals also shipped Kurt Suzuki to the A’s for minor leaguer Dakota Bacus.  Suzuki’s time in Washington was fairly short, though not as quick as DeJesus’ stint.  The catcher, who was sent to the Nationals in August of 2012, found himself back in Oakland just one year and 20 days later.  After helping the A’s reach the postseason, Suzuki had his $8.5MM option declined in the offseason.  The catcher would go on to sign a one-year deal with the Twins that winter and he later inked a multi-year extension in the midst of his first All-Star campaign.
  • On this date in 2009, the Red Sox signed Xander Bogaerts as an amateur free agent.  While he’s regarded as a possible up-and-coming star today, Bogaerts did not have a great deal of hype around him when he was signed as a 16-year-old.  The Red Sox inked the Aruban shortstop for a paltry $410K signing bonus.

AL East Notes: Castillo, Yankees, Hunter, Pennington

The trade of Shane Victorino to the Angels has opened playing time for Rusney Castillo and allowed the Red Sox‘ $72.5MM man to impress his team, writes Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. Castillo is hitting .333/.375/.444 in his latest recall from Triple-A, and Boston is impressed with his ability to quickly make adjustments based on advice from the coaching staff. Assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez has already made slight changes to Castillo’s stance in an effort to shorten his swing, and both player and team feel the results have been positive. There are still greater adjustments to be made, MacPherson continues — Castillo, for instance, was taught in Cuba to swing each time he sees a baserunner in motion regardless of the pitch — but the 28-year-old says his confidence and comfort level are on the rise.

A few more AL East items on a quiet morning…

  • Yankees GM Brian Cashman took a big picture approach at the deadline by holding onto his best prospects, writes John Harper of the New York Daily News, but he may end up regretting that decision. The contrast between that approach and the aggressive one taken by Toronto counterpart Alex Anthopoulos is already apparent, as the Blue Jays are 11-1 since acquiring Troy Tulowitzki, Harper continues.
  • Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun opines that the Orioles are missing Tommy Hunter following what he calls a “curious” trade. Manager Buck Showalter has already been forced to lean on Chaz Roe in a high-leverage spot for which Hunter would have been better suited. Connolly feels that the reasoning behind the trade made some sense — the team wanted some maneuverability with its bullpen and none of their relievers have minor league options — but they’ve already contradicted that plan by activating Rule 5 right-hander Jason Garcia from the DL and devoting a spot to him. He concludes that the team has effectively weakened its bullpen in order to add a right-handed outfielder (Junior Lake) whose skill set is somewhat redundant with Nolan Reimold already on the roster.
  • Cliff Pennington spoke to Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi about his excitement to join a Blue Jays team that is in pursuit of a division title and a postseason berth. Pennington notes that he heard plenty of trade rumors with his name involved prior to the non-waiver deadline but was caught somewhat off guard by his August trade. As Davidi notes, Pennington is plenty familiar with Josh Donaldson from the pair’s days in the minors and Majors with the Athletics, and the pair reached the postseason together with the A’s in 2012.

Players On Revocable Waivers: Thursday

Now that the non-waiver trade deadline has passed, it becomes much more difficult for teams to move players. Those looking for a crash course can check out MLBTR’s August trade primer, but the quick version is that each team will place a significant amount of players on revocable trade waivers this month. If a player is claimed, his team can either force the claiming team to take the entirety of his contract, work out a trade with the claiming team (they have 48.5 hours to do so) or pull the player back off waivers. Players that clear waivers can be traded to any team. If a player is put through waivers a second time, his team loses the ability to revoke the waivers.

Bear in mind that teams will often place players they have no intention of trading on revocable trade waivers. There’s no harm in the process, it can help to mask the players they do want to trade, and it allows them a chance to gauge interest and be overwhelmed by an unexpected offer. (Again, for further detail, check out MLBTR’s full post on the process.)

All that said, the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo has provided our first batch of players that have been placed on revocable waivers. It’s not clear when each of these names was placed on waivers, so some may have already cleared or been pulled back…

  • The Red Sox have placed Mike Napoli, Rusney Castillo, Jackie Bradley Jr., Brock Holt, Hanley Ramirez, Craig Breslow and Justin Masterson on waivers. Of that group, I’d imagine that Napoli (earning $16MM in 2015), Castillo (owed $56.5MM from 2016-20), Ramirez ($66MM from 2016-18) and Masterson (earning $9.5MM in 2015) would each clear just based on salary alone. The remaining portion of Breslow’s $2MM salary isn’t exactly prohibitive, but he’s posted a 4.25 ERA this year with unsightly peripheral stats that have led stats like FIP and xFIP to suggest that his ERA should be north of 5.00. Lefties are hitting .271/.354/.456 against Breslow in 2015.
  • Holt and Bradley, on the other hand, would probably be interest to a large number of teams. The versatile Holt can play all over the diamond and is hitting .277/.351/.380 on the season with an increased walk rate and positive value contributed both defensively and on the basepaths. He’s controllable through 2019, and the Sox almost certainly aren’t interested in moving him, though a claiming team will have the opportunity to offer something substantial. Bradley’s stock has fallen quite a bit from his days as a Top 100 prospect, but he’s an elite glove in center field that is still just 25 years old and can be controlled through 2020. Certainly, there are teams that would have interest in trying to sort out his offensive struggles. (He’s batted just .188/.264/.269 in 589 Major League plate appearances.)
  • Cafardo also reports that both James Shields and Matt Kemp have been placed on waivers by the Padres. Kemp has struggled in the field and produced a roughly league-average batting line (park-adjusted) at the plate, so teams aren’t likely to place a claim on his remaining salary.
  • Shields has $65MM coming his way after 2015 due to the backloaded nature of his contract, and he can opt out after the 2016 season. It’d be a risk for any club to claim him on the heels of reports that the Padres were shopping him somewhat aggressively in July. The Padres’ thinking could be that they know his market at this time and are confident that he’s less likely to be claimed in early August, so getting him through waivers early will allow them to spend the month further exploring trades. Shields has been uncharacteristically homer-prone this season, but the workhorse has made 23 starts and turned in a 3.74 ERA with a much-improved strikeout rate. He’s posted a 2.57 ERA with just five homers over his past 42 innings as well.


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.