Is Rusney Castillo one step closer to becoming the Red Sox center fielder of the future?
According to a report on ESPNBoston.com, the Red Sox and Tigers “appear to be the frontrunners” for the highly-touted Cuban defector who is expected to announce his decision on which MLB team he will sign with by the weekend after reviewing the blind bids submitted.
The Globe’s Nick Cafardo also said the Red Sox were going hard after Castillo
Castillo is a a speedy outfielder who can play some infield and has the potential to become a high-impact player in the majors, but it’s not a lock that he will light up the big stage as quickly as fellow Cuban sluggers Yoenis Cespedes, Jose Abreau, or Yasiel Puig.
The Red Sox have been without a steady center fielder since Jacoby Ellsbury signed on with the Yankees this offseason. Grady Sizemore won the starting job in the spring, but struggled and was eventually released. Jackie Bradley Jr., while stellar defensively, wasn’t able to get into a consistent groove at plate and was optioned to Pawtucket on Monday. Rookie Mookie Betts is currently patrolling center and is just getting comfortable with the position.
The Tigers are looking to replace Austin Jackson, the center fielder who was dealt to the Mariners as part of the three-way trade that saw David Price land in Detroit.
The scouting skinny on the stocky Castillo is that offensively he’s got outstanding raw power that has the potential to translate to the major leagues. Defensively, he possesses great speed but is thought of as an average fielder with an OK arm.
In 360 games in Cuba, Castillo batted .319/.383/.516 in 360 games in Cuba, slugging 51 home runs and stealing 76 bases in that stretch.
More than 100 scouts from all 28 MLB teams were on hand to witness Castillo’s workout in Florida on July 26. And WEEI.com reported that the Red Sox held a private workout for Castillo Aug. 1 in Fort Myers, Fla.
Reports estimate that the 27-year-old Castillo could be signed to a contract in the six-year, $50 million ballpark and the Red Sox have been reported to be one of the aggressive bidders for his services. He would need to obtain a work visa quickly in order to be on a major league roster by Aug. 31, the last day to be eligible to play in the postseason. But it’s been a while since Castillo has seen game action. He last played in Cuba in 2012, and ended the year on suspension.
Castillo is being represented by Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports, the agency that also represents Robinson Cano.