BOSTON — Red Sox manager John Farrell was tight-lipped Friday regarding Rusney Castillo.
Castillo, a 27-year-old Cuban outfielder, reportedly agreed to a seven-year, $72.5 million contract with the Red Sox. Farrell answered vaguely when pressed on the topic before Boston’s game against the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park, but he did acknowledge Castillo’s big league potential.
“Above-average speed. Can play center field or right field. What kind of power, what kind of average (is unclear),” Farrell said when asked about his knowledge of Castillo. “Obviously, our scouts liked him enough. If the reports are true, that’s a significant investment. It’s an exciting, athletic player, by all accounts.”
Farrell was mum on the subject for obvious reasons. Castillo still needs to take a physical — he’s expected to do so Saturday, according to USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale — and nothing is official. But it sure sounds like Castillo could soon join the Red Sox, continuing a major roster overhaul for the defending World Series champions.
It’s difficult to project what kind of impact Castillo will make in Major League Baseball. Several Cuban defectors, including Red Sox outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, have made seamless transitions in recent years, though, so it isn’t surprising to see Boston tap into the international market as it looks to retool for 2015.
“That’s the one thing that stands out more than anything,” Farrell said. “When you look at Yoenis’ performance right away in Oakland, (Jose) Abreu in Chicago. Hopefully the same holds true for every other player that comes over. I think when you look at how many games they play on the international stage and the talent in which they play against. Plus, just by nature, they’re seemingly a very strong group physically. And they’re able to transition and handle the wear and tear of a long season.”
It’s been an interesting season for the Red Sox, to say the least. It only has gotten more interesting as the season has progressed. While the club remains implanted in last place in the American League East, its flurry of trade deadline moves and now the reported signing of Castillo should make for an intriguing stretch run.
It’s unclear at this point where Castillo will fit in this season and beyond. That could pose a challenge for Farrell as he fills out his lineup card, but the manager isn’t too worried about any undue stress related to signing an unknown quantity like Castillo.
“I wouldn’t say complicate because we’re going to have a pretty good read on what his capabilities are based on where he’s played in the past,” Farrell said. “There’s probably a growing level of comfort with these types of situations as the next Cespedes or Abreu or Yunel Esocobar. Those types of players start to pave the way for future players coming over. And so you get a little bit more of a known commodity with a guy who’s never played in the major leagues before. You’re not going to always project to the exact number, but you’re going to be able to get a better read and feel for what they might be able to do.”
The Red Sox will have some important decisions to make this offseason, especially when it comes to their outfield, which is even more crowded with Castillo expected to join the mix. But while there are far more questions than answers, one must trust that there’s a method to general manager Ben Cherington’s madness.
“Those are a lot of things that aren’t in place right now,” Farrell said. “Ben’s goal is to build the most talented and deep roster possible. However that comes about, we’ll figure it out as we go.”
Photo via Twitter/@MLB_Cuba