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.