The Red Sox still have to work out the details of paperwork and legalities with Rusney Castillo. But the Cuban outfielder is officially in the Red Sox fold now.
“Real excited about this signing,” said general manager Ben Cherington. “We were able to get to know Rusney over the last couple of weeks. Before that we got to see Rusney in Amsterdam in 2011 and Taiwan in 2012. Last several weeks since he’s been in Florida, we’ve gotten to know him even better.
“This is an exciting player. A great combination of skills and defensive ability, speed, solid power. He’s got a really strong track record in Cuba. We’re excited to add him to the organization we feel he can be a big part of winning Red Sox teams here for a long time.”
The Sox hope to get Castillo into major league games in September. Perhaps he can offer some offensive help. The Sox introduced Castillo to the media in a press conference after Saturday’s 7-3 loss to the Mariners Saturday afternoon that extended their losing streak to seven games and eight-of-nine games.
Castillo, 27, signed for $72.5 million for seven years, from 2014 -2020. Sitting at a dais in the Fenway interview room between Cherington and team interpreter Adrian Lorenzo, Castillo wore his new Red Sox jersey, No. 38.
“It’s a dream come true to have been given this opportunity to play because of the success of recent Cuban players,” Castillo said. “It’s an honor and privilege.
“It allows me to be a part of such a historical organization and I’m just ecstatic to be here.”
Growing up in Cuba, Castillo did not see many Major League Baseball games, and so he didn’t have a favorite team.
“As you grew up and matured,” he said, “The Red Sox were one of the more popular franchises and a team I would follow more than others.”
He has not played organized baseball for about 18 months, though, as he defected from Cuba and moved to Haiti.
“To me at this point it’s not about the time missed, because even though I’ve missed a year and half of games, I’ve been training everyday “ he said. “And that’s what got me most prepared on a day to day basis we’re going to continue that moving forward.”
The Sox hope he can offer some much needed offensive punch to their ineffective lineup. In their seven-game losing streak they are 4-for-57, batting .070, with runners in scoring position, leaving 61 runners on base.
“It wouldn’t have changed our evaluation of him,” Cherington said. “You make decisions based on the information you have at the time. And we think we all know we’re trying to build a winning team as quickly as we can and we feel confident we can do that. We felt Rusney would be a big part of that. Obviously this is a long-term commitment. This is not a decision that’s being made about next week or next April. This is someone we think will be a core part of our team for a long time and who we hope he’ll be part of talented roster in short term.”
Castillo will return to Miami, where he has been living, before going to the team’s training complex in Fort Myers to begin workouts and get ready for games. He will play in some minor league games before joining the major league team, which is dependent upon obtaining a work visa and other legalities, such as clearance from the Office of Foreign Asset Control.
“When that’s completed, and hopefully that will be completed sooner rather than later, we would start to get him into games,” Cherington said. “If it happens in time, to get him into the minor league season. It may start with minor league games. We hope these steps can be completed and we can see him in major league games at some point in September.
“I think it means we’re trying to get better. We need 25 guys on the roster to win games. That’s all it means. We knew going forward, we felt good about the talent that’s here and adding Rusney to that talented group. We want a talent-filled roster and a competitive roster moving forward. Hopefully we’re closer to that with Rusney aboard.”