Rusney Castillo hasn’t played in a major league game with the Boston Red Sox since 2016, and it’s unlikely the 31-year-old outfielder will be called up from Triple-A Pawtucket anytime soon.
So, why then does Castillo still commute from Boston to Pawtucket — a drive of about an hour — for each of the PawSox’s home games instead of finding a place closer to McCoy Stadium?
Well, the answer is quite simple.
“I live in Boston for a reason,” Castillo recently said through PawSox broadcaster Will Flemming, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier. “My mentality every day is that I’m a big leaguer and I belong there. I never want to leave Boston because I know I belong there. I’m firmly confident I’ll be a big leaguer again soon.”
Castillo probably should be a big leaguer based solely on performance. He entered Monday leading the International League this season in batting average (.329) and hits (144) while also leading the PawSox in RBIs (56), runs (54), total bases (188), doubles (29) and stolen bases (13).
The Red Sox have a deep outfield featuring the likes of Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr. and J.D. Martinez, but Castillo has been a force at Triple-A for the better part of two years and almost certainly would be in the majors — either with Boston or another team — if not for his contract.
Castillo, who signed a seven-year, $72.5 million deal in August 2014, was taken off the Red Sox’s 40-man roster and outrighted to Pawtucket in June 2016. He’ll still earn lucrative salaries — $11 million in 2018 and 2019, with $13.5 guaranteed for 2020 –but those figures no longer count toward Boston’s payroll for luxury tax purposes because of when he was outrighted. Castillo’s earnings would, however, become taxable if the Red Sox added him to the major league roster, hence why he’s pretty much stuck in Pawtucket for the foreseeable future despite his talent.
“I never knew the rules and never imagined it could be this way, but I don’t focus on it in the least,” Castillo recently said, per Speier. “I only focus on getting better. I do realize that putting up numbers is the most important thing. If you put those numbers on paper, teams will notice and the opportunity will come.”
For now, Castillo will continue his lengthy commute in the hopes it miraculously shortens in the near future by virtue of an unexpected big league call-up.
Thumbnail photo via Douglas DeFelice/USA TODAY Sports Images