With every passing year, big name, big talent Cuban defectors continue to infiltrate Major League Baseball. Dating back to the beginning of Fidel Castro’s presidency in the small island nation, players have fled the country in an effort to fine fortune in MLB. More recently, players like Jose Contreras, Alexei Ramirez, and most recently Aroldis Chapman, Yoenis Cespedes, Yasiel Puig, and Jose Abreu along with prospects Miguel Gonzalez and Jorge Soler, have highlighted some of the biggest name defectors (Ramirez, Chapman, Cespedes, Puig, and Abreu were all 2014 All-Stars). Those players received big guaranteed money before ever seeing a big league field, and the next one in line is getting ready to negotiate his payday.
The 27 year old Rusney Castillo, an outfielder who possesses both speed and power figures to be a hot commodity on the open market in short order. He held a private workout this past weekend, which was reportedly attended by some 28 of the 30 MLB teams. Walter Villa and Ben Badler over at Baseball America had the most in depth analysis of his workout, which you can see here and here.
Castillo is an interesting case because just about every team wants him, but the reasons for their interest may differ greatly. Contending teams view him as an acquisition who can potentially help immediately, and won’t cost anything but money – non-contending teams view him as a piece of the puzzle as they work to rebuild their organizations. Considering Castillo’s age, he seems to make the most sense for contenders, who would want a contribution from him in the short term, and can take advantage of what should be his prime years.
Teams have begun to schedule private workouts with Castillo, following his impressive US debut. The Red Sox, Phillies, and Yankees were the first to jump on the chance to see him privately, according to Badler, and the Astros have jumped in as well, according to Brian McTaggart of MLB.com. Castillo’s ability to man the outfield, as well as play shortstop only expands his potential market, although there are questions about his ability to stick there at the highest level.
How much money might the winning bid be for Castillo? The $36 million awarded to Yoenis Cespedes seems to be the most likely comparable to what Castillo can expect. Cespedes was younger when he signed, at age 26, but he didn’t have the desperation of a heated pennant race driving up his price. If a team like the Yankees get involved, who have no limits to their resources, the bidding could take out a sizable portion of the interested parties. No matter what though, the courting process figures to be extremely fascinating for Castillo. He will go from holding a workout for a group of MLB scouts, taking live batting practice against an undrafted Division II college pitcher, to potentially showing off his talents on the biggest stage in baseball – all in a matter of months.
Tags: Rusney Castillo