Red Sox outfielder Rusney Castillo won’t be handed a job in 2016, writes Ian Browne of MLB.com. He faces stiff internal competition from Travis Shaw, Chris Young, and Brock Holt for playing time. The 28-year-old Cuban had a challenging first full season in the majors, hitting .253/.288/.359 in 289 plate appearances. He did chip in with possibly elite defense. Castillo blames injuries which prevented him from maintaining his in-season conditioning last year. That led to him wearing down quickly when healthy. He put in a full offseason of work to hopefully counteract that cycle. Per Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, Castillo needs to show he can be healthy while playing every day.
Here’s more from the AL East:
- Allen Craig was outrighted off the Red Sox roster last fall, but he’s in camp competing for a backup role to Hanley Ramirez, writes Sean McAdam of CSN Northeast. Craig’s power has evaporated since his heyday with the Cardinals. He’s still just 31 years old – young enough to rediscover his groove and contribute in the majors. However, he’ll need to make more consistent hard contact, especially to the outfield gaps.
- The Yankees may find it challenging to replace Adam Warren, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Warren, traded to the Cubs for Starlin Castro, filled multiple shoes during his Yankees tenure – swingman, multi-inning reliever, and late-inning reliever. While the Yankees have a fantastic back end of the bullpen, the guys ahead of the top three carry some uncertainty. In the rotation, Ivan Nova is a good sixth starter, but the depth behind him looks shaky. Nova is the most likely to fill Warren’s many-hatted role. Bryan Mitchell is another name to watch.
- Also from Sherman, the Yankees should worry about their first base depth too. Much was made this week about the lack of options behind Chase Headley at third base. At first, Mark Teixeira is coming off his most healthy season in recent memory, but he still hasn’t played more than 123 games since 2011. Prospect Greg Bird is out for the year while Alex Rodriguez isn’t expected to don a glove. Dustin Ackley can help provide depth along with Brian McCann. The club may be better served by acquiring a more traditional alternative. Among free agents, Pedro Alvarez and Justin Morneau may be a little rich for an emergency backup role. I could see Jeff Baker, Corey Hart, Ryan Raburn, and Marlon Byrd as potential fits. Byrd would need to learn a new position.
- The role of Yankees top catching prospect Gary Sanchez will require thought, per Sherman. The club is convinced he’s ready, yet there just isn’t much opportunity to play behind McCann at catcher and Rodriguez at designated hitter. Sanchez, who has options, may benefit more from playing regularly at Triple-A. Meanwhile, both Carlos Corporan and Austin Romine can elect free agency if they aren’t ticketed for the 25-man roster.
- Orioles Rule 5 pick Joey Rickard has a shot to stick, writes Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun. With Dexter Fowler returning to Chicago, Rickard could be in the mix as a backup in left or right field. He’s a high contact hitter with speed, plate discipline, and minimal power.