One potential reason the Red Sox reached a deal with Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo is the way the free agent market shapes up this winter, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal writes. The Red Sox needed offensive help, but the class of free agent hitters isn’t strong, and the struggles of 2013-14 free agents like Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann and Shin-Soo Choo demonstrate that you can get less than what you pay for. The pitching market is stronger, so the Red Sox have made a variety of moves to improve their 2015 offense, freeing them to pursue pitching this offseason. Here’s more on Castillo and the Red Sox.
- The Giants and Phillies were among the top contenders to sign Castillo before the Red Sox eventually signed him, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets.
- The Red Sox view Castillo as a free swinger with excellent power and speed, one evaluator tells ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes. An evaluator for another team, however, tells Edes that they see Castillo as more of a 15-20 homer player than a 30-homer player. Edes also notes that Red Sox vice president of player personnel Allard Baird was a key to Castillo’s signing. “There was no stone unturned with Allard,” says a source from within the Red Sox. “He knows everything about the kid.”
- The Castillo signing is just the latest in a long line of franchise-changing moves for the Red Sox, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald writes. The upheaval began with the 2012 trade that sent Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto to the Dodgers, and that trade may have helped give the Red Sox the financial flexibility they needed to agree to terms with Castillo.
- The Castillo deal might not work out, but given the alternatives on the free agent market, it made sense for the Sox to sign a relative unknown for a modest yearly salary, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald writes. Castillo will make far less than expensive veterans like Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford currently do, and this offseason market isn’t a strong one for hitters.
- Castillo won’t join the Red Sox’ active roster immediately after the signing becomes official, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald tweets. Unsurprisingly, they feel he’ll need time to adjust after not playing competitively for more than a year.
- Scouts like Castillo’s speed and body type, but aren’t unanimously thrilled about his hitting, ESPN’s Keith Law writes (Insider-only). Castillo could be a plus defensive outfielder, though, which means he won’t have to be a dominant offensive player to be worth $12MM per season.
- The Yankees liked Castillo as a player, but didn’t bid on him because of their issues with the luxury tax, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes (Twitter links). At a luxury tax rate of 50%, Castillo would have effectively cost the Yankees $108MM rather than $72MM.
- The Tigers were not “ever really close” to signing Castillo, GM Dave Dombrowski tells MLB Network Radio (via MLB.com’s Jason Beck). “We were basically told earlier in the week — I think first thing Monday — that we were no longer a participant,” says Dombrowski, who adds that the Tigers viewed Castillo as a good defensive center fielder with base stealing ability who might hit 15 homers per season.
Are major league front offices really this reactionary? Three data points from this year are enough to completely shape your plan?
Typically, yes, they are this reactionary. I also think if you look at the list of free agent batters (provided by MLBTR to the right) it’s pretty obvious there are more impact pitchers available. I’d also rather gamble on a 27-year-old athletic OF for $12MM per year than almost any of the available batters. Reactionary or not, Castillo is probably just a plain ol’ good deal.
Or… the Sox just paid 12 mil a year for a 4th OF pinch runner. Enjoy that in 2020.
Even if that’s the case, average offense, good speed, and good defense will be worth $12-15MM in 2020.
Average offense is a stretch. The rest is worth a replacement level minor leaguer with legs.
His offense will be better than you think. He’s a potential 5-tool talent. Think Shane Victorino in his prime. Good at everything but not quite elite.
Why? Wishful thinking or factual evidence? his Cuban numbers (A+ or AA comparable) don’t top what you are projecting in year one
Cuban League is like A or AA in quality but players never get they pick playing there, Chapman ERA in Cuba was over 4 all the time and don’t forget that they just play 90 games, this guy is 30 pounds heavier (pure muscle) and faster than 6 months ago when he was playing in Cuba,
So you’re saying a 27 year old put up mediocre numbers in the equivalent of A+ ball, and is worth 12 mil a year? He might be an average-ish player if all goes well, and the AAV of the contract really isn’t that bad… but I wouldn’t want my team to tell me they’re trotting out a mediocre players for the next six years.
Forget his Cuban numbers. There is no way to objectively translate those. Again, Aroldis Chapman had a +4 ERA in Cuba. Obviously the Red Sox liked Castillo based on his tools/scouting reports/workouts, plus the fact he’s added tons of muscle. They wouldn’t pay him 12 mil unless they thought he was worth it. You are pretending like you’ve got him completely figured out.
This guy (Castillo) has a higher ceiling than Victorino, he looks more like Puig o Cespedes, we are talking about 5 tools here, Victorino only had 2 and now has 1
Victorino in his prime was a .290 type hitter with 15 hr 30 sb + great defense and strong arm. That’s not 5-tool on a Mike Trout level, but it’s still 5-tool on the lighter side.
He’s 27… he’s at his ceiling, and it’s well below Victorino. That is just a ridiculous statement to make
Or… the Sox just paid 12 mil a year for a possibly good outfielder. They may enjoy that in 2020.
Good defense and speed but not a good bat – sounds like a 4th OF to me, and many scouts agreed. Red Sox negotiated against themselves on this one. Awful signing, but not that expensive that it holds back a team
I’m not sure where you got the many scouts part from. Law’s piece only mentioned that not all scouts are unanimously in love with Castillo’s hitting. Obviously, the Red Sox like his hitting enough to sign him. You can’t call the guy a 4th outfielder based on the opinions of a few scouts. Castillo should be up in the majors soon and we will all have time to judge him for ourselves.
If scouts had the crystal ball Mike Trout would have gone #1 and about a hundred #1’s would not have.
Yankee fans may enjoy it more in 2020.
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The Yankees might be more concerned with a 36 year old Ellsbury making 21.5 million at that point.
And you’ve seen him play how many innings? The scouting slant towards Castillo was average until his workouts when they improved dramtically. Enough scouts had a positive reaction to what they saw that the Sox could afford to do this. Almost everybody agrees he’s a plus defender, plus runner, and has12-15 HR power. Even if he hits for a low average that sounds like a 3 WAR player which fits right into his salary structure. As far as 2020, the Sox have very little money tied up long term…. they’re not the Yankees with $150+ million tied up until the end of time. And unlike the Yankees they have cheap young high minor talent everywhere they look so their long term needs are limited. All they have on the books is Pedroia’s which will be dead $ but not a backbreaker. They could afford to do this, and they will open up the books for pitching this winter like the article said.
This could have all been avoided if Herb Washington was available.
Jackie Bradley makes what… >500K? They might get the same production for 12 mil a year…
Bradley is having one of the worst seasons (offensively) in baseball history so I’d say any comp to Bradley is more than a worst case scenario.
Except they are paying him more than Jay Bruce, McCutchen, Gomez, and Stanton.
And paying him less than Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Josh Hamilton, Shin-Soo Choo, and Carlos Beltran. Anyone can cite several examples on either end of the value spectrum, but within the context of the league a $12MM player needs to be worth 2-3 wins and that’s not exceedingly difficult.
You named a bunch of injury prone or over the hill players. I named STAR caliber players.
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Yeah but you cherry picked. Not one of those guys has even had a good sniff of free agency. If you’re the Sox or any high payroll team, you jump at the chance to sign his guy to the contract he got. Especially with some of their prospects/youngsters. Never look at any move in a vacuum for a big market team. That’s not how MLB operates.
I think the Red Sox were asking a lot from JBJ this year and he wasn’t quite ready. He had 95 MLB at bats and they made him “the guy” in centerfield right out of the gate. They should have sent him back to AAA a while ago but instead they chose to LET him have one of the worst offensive seasons in MLB history. I’m not ready to say JBJ will never hit, they may have thrown him in over his head.
Are you forgetting about Grady Sizemore?
Well, yes and no. I did forget he was in the mix, but even looking back, I saw him more as a project considering his time away from the game. No one really knew what they would get with him so if he was considered the solution he shouldn’t have been.
How you saw him doesn’t change the fact that he had a great Spring Training and saw plenty of playing time for the Sox. Obviously that didn’t work out, but it doesn’t change the fact that JBJ was most certainly not handed the starting job.
lot of money for a guy with no demonstrated success at the major-league level.
Sox seems to be counting on the better things for better living through chemistry regimen from Cuban players.
This guy hit .315 in Cuba. That’s not good.
Didn’t Cespedes hit like .350 in Cuba…
“This guy hit .315 in Cuba. That’s not good.”
Still asking why.
I already told you. You should be hitting better in Cuba. To hit only .315 isn’t good.
I’m going to paraphrase Ken Burns: Baseball is a game where those who can hit the ball 3 out of 10 times are considered heroes.
Yes. In the MLB. The Cuban leagues aren’t as competitive as the MLB so only hitting .315 doesn’t translate well into the MLB. Thin k about it this way, if somebody was 27 years old in AA hitting .315, and you sent him straight to the Majors, is he still going to hit .315?
Abreu hit .330 which is not that much different i mean somewhat but not huge
You’re right. He will be a better hitter than Abreu. Just keep telling yourself that. Better than Abreu. Better than Abreu. No! I can’t do it.
Telling myself what i do not even like the guy or care about him? I was just added another point of reference and no i do not think he will be better then Abreu
Jim McGrath 2
What would you expect him to hit?
I see a .275 hitter maybe .280 i’m not overly high on him but he could prove me wrong he is no McCutchen that i have seen him being compared to
Jim McGrath 2
How many of you contributors actually saw Castillo work out? I would venture to say BenC and several scouts from the Sox watched the workout(s) and they talked , made comparisons and got many opinions from people that have seen him play.
It’s possible he could be a bust–there are plenty of FA players that have been busts and many an agent that has sold their product to would be GM’s.
To pay $12 M a year you would hope you get a good product to count on. If he can win 3-4 games per year and play some good D and bat about .250 like Cespy–the Sox will have made a good deal. The key it didn’t cost them any prospects which allows them to pursue Hamels, maybe Stanton or even Tulo.
Lester or Big Game James may also be in their off season shopping .
2015, for the Sox, started a month ago.
4 wins? You expect this guy to give you 4 wins? Fangraphs has David Ortiz at 3.8 wins for 2013! Cut that in half and you might not be so disappointed when he becomes a fourth OF. Your front office paid for a mediocre player who will man your OF for the next 6 years. Not a huge price but way too long a contract.
David Ortiz doesn’t play defense so his WAR is limited. You conveniently left that part out of your expert analysis.
Oh my god… 4 WAR is the 36th best player in the majors. That’s really good. It’s better than Brett Gardner, Jonathan Lucroy, and Chase Utley…
My point is simple – temper your expectations Sox fans. You didn’t land Yasiel Puig.
Our expectations are tempered. Nobody is expecting a superstar. We are expecting diet Puig, but with better speed and defense.
Castillo and Cespedes make it pretty clear the the Sox plan on signing ZERO players this off-season with draft pick compensation.
They want to hold on to that top-5 pick.