The Boston Red Sox aren’t wasting any time in retooling for 2015.
The Red Sox reportedly agreed to a seven-year, $72.5 million contract with 27-year-old Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo. While it will crowd Boston’s outfield, adding Castillo also opens up a world of possibilities for the Red Sox as they gear up for an interesting offseason.
The Red Sox faced an outfield logjam even before this, as Yoenis Cespedes, Allen Craig, Shane Victorino, Brock Holt, Daniel Nava, Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. all figured to be part of the 2015 mix in some capacity. Betts and Bradley both have minor league options remaining, and Holt can play everywhere on the diamond, so it’s possible the Red Sox could retain the services of all parties.
In fact, it wouldn’t be the worst thing ever for the Red Sox, as the team learned firsthand this season that relying on potential or expecting a specific level of progress, especially from young players, can be detrimental. (See Bradley, Xander Bogaerts and Will Middlebrooks.) Plus, there are questions surrounding the current outfield crop.
Cespedes pretty much is a known commodity at this point, but Craig and Victorino come with health concerns, Holt could drop off, Nava is better equipped for a platoon role, and Betts and Bradley still are developing into major leaguers. Castillo, also an unknown quantity, would give the Red Sox one more option, albeit an expensive one.
Signing Castillo also would allow the Red Sox to be even more aggressive in pursuing trades, particularly if they’re presented with an opportunity to land an impact major leaguer in a deal involving their outfield prospects. (Hello, Giancarlo Stanton? Cole Hamels, maybe?) Trading young players, like Betts and/or Bradley, still poses a risk because of what they could become, but it’s certainly worth exploring if the Red Sox can upgrade in other areas, particularly the starting rotation, which was dismantled amid Boston’s flurry of trade deadline moves.
The Red Sox, by virtue of stockpiling major league-ready outfielders, would create an area from which to deal — or at least look to deal — while assembling the best club possible for 2015. Conversations might not end with Boston’s outfield. But they certainly should start there. The Red Sox would be doing themselves a disservice if they didn’t.
None of this takes into account that the Red Sox — if the evaluations are accurate — would land a dynamic player who would add a whole new dimension to the club. Jacoby Ellsbury’s departure and Victorino’s injury woes have hurt the Red Sox in 2014. Castillo’s skill set — one that includes excellent speed — could help pick up the slack moving forward.
Do the Red Sox need to sign Castillo? Not necessarily. A 2015 starting outfield comprised of Cespedes, Craig and Victorino seemed plausible, even if, again, it required some faith that everything — and everyone — would remain in one piece. But there’s something to be said for adding as many good players as possible, regardless of the status quo. And adding a good player like Castillo without being required to relinquish any assets (draft picks, prospects, etc.) beyond money is a no-brainer for a big-market team, like the Red Sox.
The Red Sox are being aggressive as they eye 2015. They’ll be in a better place because of it.
Photo via Twitter/@mikeatmiami