The Red Sox today have reached agreement with Cuban free agent outfielder Rusney Castillo on a seven-year, $72.5 million deal that will take effect beginning in 2014 and run through 2020 according to multiple media reports.
The deal sets a record for the largest contract awarded a Cuban player, surpassing the six year, $68 million deal Jose Abreu received from the Chicago White Sox last winter.
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 Abreu, 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 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. 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. The Tigers were also reported to be a finalist for Castillo’s services.