Kevin Millar understands where the Boston Red Sox are coming from.
Millar, like everyone else, doesn’t know for sure whether Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo, who reportedly agreed to a seven-year, $72.5 million contract with the Red Sox, will become a good Major League Baseball player. But the former Red Sox first baseman and current MLB Network analyst doesn’t blame the Red Sox for rolling the dice on an unknown commodity given the growing success rate of Cuban defectors.
“You have to have scouts up there. Someone had to see him other than a workout. But at the end of the day, you go with your heart,” Millar said Friday on WEEI’s “Middays with MFB.” “I’m using an example of Jose Abreu of the White Sox. We didn’t have a whole lot of things on him, but did you know he was going to have 32 home runs coming into the middle of August?
“Sometimes, it’s for your gut. And not everything works out. It’s just like a draft. Yes, $72 million is a lot of money, but it was a lot of money for Yu Darvish back in the day, then the (Masahiro Tanaka) situation happened for the Yankees and it was a lot of money then, but it looked like it was about worth it until the injury. So this money is a lot of money, but there’s a lot of money out there to be made and spent and hopefully you get that dynamic-type player that a lot of these Cubans have turned out to be.”
Castillo is said to possess excellent speed, above-average defensive skills and solid line drive ability. The 27-year-old might not have the power of Abreu, Yoenis Cespedes or Yasiel Puig — three Cuban defectors who have thrived upon arriving in the majors — but his skill set still is intriguing, especially for a club, like the Red Sox, looking to add some offensive punch.
“I don’t know a whole lot about him. I don’t think any of us do,” Millar said. “But you’re looking at the dynamic of the Cuban influence in baseball, starting off with Jose Abreu. I think it’s a great thing. I think you’re starting to see that gap come closer because there’s some great players over in Cuba and they’re dynamic players and hopefully this thing pans out well for the Red Sox.”
Nothing is official regarding Castillo and the Red Sox. If Boston ends up landing the sought-after slugger, however, it will both improve the club and give the Red Sox some extra flexibility going into an important offseason.
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