The Boston Red Sox and Cuban outfielder/second baseman Rusney Castillo have agreed to terms on a seven-year, $72.5 million deal, according to media reports on Friday.
Castillo's deal will start in 2014, where he will make a prorated portion of the $500,000 league-minimium salary. Then, from 2015 to 2020, Castillo will be under contract for six-years, on a deal that is worth $72 million. Cuban sensations have struck high-priced deals with Major League teams in the past, but in terms of total value worth, Castillo reached the largest contract for a international player ever.
The 27-year-old's name became known when he held a showcase for teams earlier this month. Scouts from 28 of the 30 Major League teams were on hand to watch Castillo work out in Miami, and many felt that he was an impressive talent. Some even believed that he could appear in the big leagues as soon as this season. Castillo drew the main interest from the Tigers, Giants, Phillies, Yankees, Cubs and Mariners before agreeing to a contract with Boston today.
Castillo's best asset is his speed, but the 5-foot-9, 185-pound outfielder has some surprising power. In 2010-2011, while playing professional ball in Cuba, Castillo hit for a .320 average with 22 home runs and 95 runs batted in in 105 games, including a league-leading 32 stolen bases. In 2011-2012, Castillo batted .342 and slugged .574 in 113 games, posting a .408 on-base percentage, along with 27 stolen bases.
Castillo also has experience playing internationally. In the 2011 Baseball World Cup in Panama, Castillo, representing Cuba, hit .273 (6-for-22). He was preparing to play for Cuba in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, but did not make the final cut, as he was suspended for attempting to defect.
The Red Sox will be adding to a team that looks like serious contenders in 2015. They added Yoenis Cespedes at the trade deadline, along with Allen Craig and Joe Kelly, while also retaining a lot of talent already on their roster. While rookies such as Jackie Bradley Jr. and Xander Bogaerts have not had the best of seasons, with experience they should be ready for 2015. The Red Sox could also be boosted by a return of Jon Lester, however, that is beginning to seem unlikely.
Many thought that Castillo would join a contending team (I personally thought the Tigers would sign him), considering the fact that he may be able to join a Major League roster within the next couple of weeks or so. But Red Sox' general manager Ben Cherington wants to contend next year and Castillo will be a big part of that.