Caught in one of the more unusual contractual situations in recent baseball history, Rusney Castillo will remain with the Red Sox in 2020, as he tells Stephanie Apstein of Sports Illustrated that he won’t exercise his opt-out clause for the final year of his contract. As per the terms of that original seven-year, $72.5MM deal, Castillo has the ability to become a free agent after this season, though in declining the opt-out, he’ll earn the final $13.5MM owed to him in salary.
There was no expectation that Castillo would opt out, given that he hasn’t appeared in a Major League game since June 16, 2016. “You’re not going to cancel something when you don’t have anything else,” Castillo told Apstein. It’s hard to argue with the 32-year-old outfielder’s logic, as he would surely have to settle for a minor league contract if he did opt out, even if such a non-guaranteed deal might be the only realistic way he plays in a big league game in 2020. Still, Castillo has continued to live in a Boston apartment, Apstein writes, out of a belief that he will eventually return to the Red Sox and the majors, and he makes a daily commute to Rhode Island for every home game for the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox.
Castillo was outrighted off Boston’s 40-man roster in June 2016, and under the terms of the current collective bargaining agreement (signed in the 2016-17 offseason), putting him back onto the 40-man at any point would have made his contract once again eligible to be counted for luxury tax calculations. This would have added an extra $10.357MM (the average annual value of Castillo’s deal) onto Boston’s tax bill for the remainder of Castillo’s contract, regardless of whether or not the Sox outrighted him again. As Apstein notes, even trading Castillo would have some luxury tax repercussions for the Red Sox, not that teams were exactly lining up to acquire Castillo and add his contract to their own books.
The end result is that Castillo has become a fixture at Triple-A Pawtucket, appearing in 389 games for the PawSox since being outrighted. He has continued to hit decently well (17 homers and a .278/.321/.448 slash line over 493 PA in 2019), but even with spectacular numbers, it’s unlikely Castillo would have been an option for a Red Sox club that was both facing major luxury tax concerns and also didn’t really have a need in the outfield with Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, and Jackie Bradley Jr. forming one of the game’s best trios on the grass.
Given that the new CBA also changed the nature of international signings, Castillo’s $72.5MM deal has remained the largest deal ever given to a player who defected from Cuba. Castillo arrived onto the MLB scene with a great deal of hype, though ultimately hit only .262/.301/.379 over 337 plate appearances with the Red Sox from 2014-16.
Rusney should file a grievance on being grandfathered with the new cap rule. not fair he should have to chose between hos guarenteed contract and any chance of playing in the Majors.
To be fair, that’s assuming he would have a shot at the Majors anyway. Based on his actual production, he doesn’t deserve a shot. A sub .800 OPS two years in a row at AAA isn’t exactly kicking the door down.
It would be very easy for the Red Sox to argue that it’s not money stopping a promotion, it’s Castillo not being very good.
Hate choosing between hos
It’s easier when they are in different area codes…
Rusney is the one with the grievance?!?! After collecting $70m+ for absolutely nothing? Makes sense.
Exactly! He could’ve stayed in Cuba earning $39/month but came here for $70mil plus and would file a grievance?
Seems like his 2019 numbers would get him to the show if it wasn’t for his contract
The luxury tax rules were already in place in the previous CBA when Rusney signed. He was grandfathered into nothing.
He’s going to be making $13.5M playing minor league baseball. Good luck with that grievance.
I wonder if also yasmany tomas will opt out of his 17 mill contract next year as well?
Some of these GMs should be exiled from baseball for this crap.
Some have been
I do recall the Phillies ‘ management was roundly panned for passing on both guys.
I recall much more criticized for not getting Yasmany Tomas than Castillo. Both turned out bad to horrible signings.
I think the same is true of the Giants. I remember believing the hype on these 2 and being bummed when neither signed with SF. Dodged those bullets, got hit with the extending the wrong players grenade.
it’s hard to feel bad for a guy making over 10 million a year that wouldn’t be getting anywhere near that otherwise but it really is a silly rule that Boston doesn’t have to pay the luxury tax on that and he can’t even get a chance to be a September call up
Trapped in the minors making millions. Poor guy. I sure hope that he’s treating his less fortunate teammates to some big league food.
before I read this my first though was ” no sh– ” haha.
After reading it, i still have that opinion.
Kinda feel sorry for him, but he’s getting paid really really good money so
Love that he still commutes to RI every day. I‘ve wondered if he lived in Pawtucket and was the richest man in the city
Maybe the best move for him would to have lived in Pawtucket for the entire time, endear himself to the populace, be a pillar of the community through his contract expiring in 2020, and run for mayor of Pawtucket, and win in a landslide. Has there ever been an example of a foreigner getting a work visa because he had been elected to public office?
Have you ever spent a good amount of time in the “bucket”? There’s a reason why he lives in Boston.
He could’ve been king there for sure.
All 30 Parks
That must have taken many seconds of consideration to make the decision between earning $13.5 million or nothing. Good for Rusney, he fooled everyone and deserves his dough – earned or otherwise.
Man, you gotta think if it wasn’t for his awful contract, he’d have gotten the chance to play and possibly prove himself to at the very least be a league average player. I’m sure a lot of rebuilding teams like the Marlins or Pirates would love to take a chance on him.
They can always do that for the 2021 season. The only issue is that he’ll be a year older.
Rusney Castillo is a 32-year-old who posted a wRC+ of 93 this year in 493 plate appearances at Triple A Pawtucket:
… down from a wRC+ of 120 in 511 plate appearances in 2018 and a wRC+ of 138 in 369 plate appearances in 2017.
It’s almost like he realized he had no chance of playing major league baseball no matter how well he played.
of course he was gonna stay.
$13.5 million for them to rubber room him? we could all only be so lucky
Who’s to say he has no chance at MLB? If the Sox trade Betts, which is very possible, and don’t sign any expensive free agents, it’s possible he can take over RF or CF (if they also non-tender Bradley) and still reset luxury tax penalties. In his last stint in MLB, Castillo did play very good outfield defense. And they’re paying his salary anyway, all they’re not paying is luxury tax on it.
But if they put him on the 40, wouldn’t they close the loophole? That’s a bit of a risk to run, might make it hard to make trades.
He lives in boston not because he thinks he’s going to the show, but the only thing to do with $72M in Rhode island is prescription drugs in a swimming pool full of Del’s frozen lemonade at your beach house.
…on second thought, I’d move to RI
Would Castillo count against the Red Sox luxury tax threshold if the Sox eat the salary and trade him?
I could see a few teams bringing him in as a non-roster invitee—Sox trade him as a minor leaguer, new team invites him to ML camp. But if a miracle happens and he makes a ML team, and the Sox would be hit with the luxury tax burden, they’d obviously not run that risk.
Jeez everyone hates on this dude for taking a big contract, like it’s his fault the Sox gave him that contract. I certainly don’t feel bad for his money situation but he’s still a baseball player and likely very much still has big league aspirations. While his numbers aren’t eye popping, they aren’t awful either. Pretty sure he gets called up if it wasn’t for the money