With the rumored signing of Cuban defector and free agent Rusney Castillo to a seven-year, $72.5 million deal, the Red Sox made further progress towards rebuilding their lineup for 2015 and beyond.

The Red Sox might be welcoming the Mariners into town for a three-game set Friday, but the hot topic surrounding the team did not revolve around their next opponent.

Rather, it was a move slated for next season and beyond.

The Red Sox might be welcoming the Mariners into town for a three-game set Friday, but the hot topic surrounding the team did not revolve around their next opponent.

Rather, it was a move slated for next season and beyond.

According to multiple sources, Boston is closing in on a seven-year, $72.5 million deal with Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo that will last until the 2020 season.

While Red Sox manager John Farrell acknowledged that he had also read the reports about Castillo working on a deal with Boston, he could not confirm that any official moves had taken place.

“€œNothing other than what I think everyone has read,” Farrell said. “€œI’€™m aware of the reports. There are still some administrative things that he would have to go through before anything is announced officially, so until that time, I’€™m kind of like everyone else.”

Once the deal is made official, Castillo’€™s contract will stand as the largest ever given to a Cuban defector, surpassing the six-year, $68 million deal given to slugger Jose Abreu last offseason by the White Sox.

Standing at 5-foot-9, Castillo has enticed scouts all across baseball with his great speed, excellent defense and the potential to be an impact player with his bat. Speaking with WEEI.com earlier this month, Red Sox left fielder Yoenis Cespedes compared Castillo to Dodgers All-Star Yasiel Puig.

“Above-average speed,” Farrell said of Castillo. “€œHe can play in center field or right field. What kind of power, what kind of average? 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.”

While shelling out over $70 million dollars to a player that has yet to play a game at any professional level in the United States might be seen as a risky move by some, Farrell noted that Cuban players such as Cespedes, Puig, and Abreu have been able to adjust to playing in the big leagues in a short amount of time, making Castillo’€™s new contract seem more like a formality than a risk.

“€œThat’€™s the one thing that stands out more than anything,”€ Farrell said. “When you look at Yoenis’ performance right away in Oakland, 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, 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.”

If Castillo does indeed sign the dotted line for Boston, it will be interesting to see if the 27-year-old will see any playing time with Boston before the end of the season -€“ something that Farrell said would be beneficiary for any player adjusting to a vastly different atmosphere in a new league.

“Well, depending on a number of things yet to take place, if the ability to see a guy in September exists, which I don’€™t know yet, it would be a rarity,”€ Farrell said. “€œIt certainly would be helpful in him getting to know whether it’€™s a given ballpark, a given city, all of those things can only help.”€

There’€™s no doubting that there will be a cloud of uncertainty in regards to how Castillo will perform under the bright lights of MLB stadiums, but for Farrell, the track records established by baseball’€™s current Cuban players will likely make Castillo’€™s transition that much easier.

“œThere’€™s probably a growing level of comfort with these types of situations as the next Cespedes or Abreu or Yunel Escobar - 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 has never played in the Major Leagues before, so you’€™re not going to always project to the exact number, but you’€™re going to get a better read and feel on what you might be able to do,” Farrell said.

If the deal is made official, the Red Sox will likely have a logjam in the outfield with Castillo, Cespedes, Shane Victorino, Allen Craig, Daniel Nava, Brock Holt, Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr., all vying for sports on the roster next season – something that Farrell said will solve itself in due time.

“Those are a lot of things that aren’€™t in place right now, so until we get there, Ben [Cherington's] goal is to build the most talented and deep roster possible,”€ Farrell said. “How that comes about, we’€™ll figure it out as we go.”

Blog Author: 
Conor Ryan

With the rumored signing of Cuban defector and free agent Rusney Castillo to a seven-year, $72.5 million deal, the Red Sox made further progress towards rebuilding their lineup for 2015 and beyond.

The Red Sox addressed some of their offensive needs at the trade deadline, adding Yoenis Cespedes and Allen Craig to an outfield that has been one of the least productive in the majors this season. The addition of Castillo brings some more speed and possibly power to a lineup that has become much more potent since the deadline.

“[The lineup is] lengthened out, and just focusing on the guys who are in uniform today, we’€™ve added right-handed power and we’€™ve added a couple of middle-of-the-order bats,” manager John Farrell said. “You could say right now we’€™re leaning a little heavy on the right-handed side, but prior to Opening Day next year there’€™s a lot of time, and I know a lot of thought will be put into how we can continue to improve this team.”

With Craig healthy and Castillo having the potential to debut with the Red Sox this September, the Red Sox offense, which has been a weak spot for the club all season, has begun to take a new shape. Someone like David Ortiz has more protective in the middle of the order with the presence of Cespedes and Craig, which Farrell says can only make things tougher for opposing pitchers.

“It makes managing the lineup that much more challenging,”€ Farrell said. “You can’€™t pick one spot and look to avoid it knowing that your might have a more favorable matchup somewhere behind it. The deeper the lineup, the more productive the lineup, the more pitches you’€™re going to get regardless of an opposition’€™s attempt to pitch around a particular guy.”

The Castillo signing is just another example of how the Red Sox have taken the remainder of the 2014 season to restructure their offense rather than waiting until the off-season to make moves.

“€œI think when you look around the trade deadline, this year was a unique year in that way, and to address current needs with current major league players…I haven’€™t seen a time when you are able to acquire the type of players that we have,”€ Farrell said. “The players that were made available this deadline were unique. We’€™ve been able to target those guys, and i think Ben [Cherington]‘€™s assessment of what the free agent pool is going to look like is pitching oriented, so there’€™s a clear cut plan with the retooling of this roster.”


- Yoenis Cespedes is back in the lineup Friday after being removed from Thursday night’€™s game in the third inning due to what was called a “personal matter.”

‘€œThe situation in which he left for last night has improved to the point of him returning, and he’€™s in the lineup,” Farrell said. “Other than that, it’€™s a personal and private matter, and that’€™s probably to the extent to which I would say anything.”

- Mike Napoli, who has missed the last two games with back spasms, is not in the lineup on Friday. However, Farrell said that he projects the first baseman will be back on the field for Saturday afternoon’€™s contest.

- With the Red Sox mustering just one hit against Matt Shoemaker and the Angels on Thursday, they’€™ll have their work cut out for them against Seattle ace, Felix Hernandez, in the series opener.

“€œ[We have to] try to get him early,” Farrell said. “€œHe’€™s the type of pitcher that if you let him settle into a rhythm, he’€™s going to be challenging nonetheless. The three pitchers we’€™re facing in this series [Hernandez, Chris Young and Hisashi Iwakuma] combined are the top three trio of pitchers in the league, and coming off last night’€™s performance, we’€™ve got our hands full as far as attacking their pitching.”

Blog Author: 
Katie Morrison
Kevin Millar checks in to talk about the Castillo signing, Giancarlo Stanton, and the MLB's pace of play.

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[0:04:22] ... and thanks goodness some incentive to -- we look toward to the Major League Baseball network intentional -- sit down interview with -- Davis whenever that's happening. You guys got a -- -- crabmeat that's Camelot era ...

A brief and, frankly, incomplete look at Thursday’s action in the Red Sox farm system:



– Though he threw just 58 of 96 pitches (60.4 percent) for strikes, left-hander Henry Owens made the strikes he did throw count, matching a season- and career-high with eight innings during which he gave up two runs on five hits (including a two-run homer and double) while walking one and punching out six. He secured 10 more outs via groundball. While Owens has given up three homers in his first four Triple-A starts, his performance since his promotion has otherwise been strong. He has 27 strikeouts and six walks in 25 2/3 innings, holding opponents to a .226 average while forging a 3.51 ERA.

– Center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. went 2-for-4 with a homer and for the first time since he was sent down, he didn’t strike out. Bradley is now 4-for-19 with the homer (.211/.211/.368) in four games with the PawSox.

– Outfielder Corey Brown, who returned to the PawSox after clearing waivers following his designation for assignment, hit a walkoff homer in his first game back on the field. He leads the PawSox with 17 homers on the year, though his plate appearances have yielded all-or-nothing results, as Brown is hitting .226/.294/.459.



– Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez has been nothing but dominant since coming to the Red Sox from the Orioles in exchange for Andrew Miller at the trade deadline. The 21-year-old allowed five hits (one double) while walking two and punching out five in matching a season-high with seven innings in which he shut out Harrisburg. Rodriguez has allowed one or no runs in each of his four starts since moving at the deadline, forging a sparkling 0.74 ERA. His strikeout rate has ticked up from 7.6 to 10.4 per nine innings, while his walk rate has dropped from 3.2 to 2.2 per nine.

He’s left-handed, young (nine months younger than Owens), has power stuff (a 90-97 mph fastball, swing-and-miss change, flashes a swing-and-miss slider) and right now is throwing strikes and figuring out how to provide regular innings. (He’s thrown at least six innings in each of his last three starts.) Rodriguez has a chance to emerge quickly as one of the top Red Sox pitching prospects, as in an organization that features primarily pitchers (save for Owens) whose most likely project is as back-end starters, he has mid- to front-of-the-rotation stuff. That said, his track record is also uneven, given that he went 3-7 with a 4.79 ERA in 16 Double-A starts before the trade.

– Though outfielder Keury De La Cruz saw his seven-game hitting streak end, he walked twice, continuing a month in which he’s demonstrated unusual plate discipline. After he walked three times in 43 games in June and July, he has nine free passes this month en route to a .373/.449/.627 line in August for the 22-year-old.



– For the first time in his career, right-hander Simon Mercedes worked into the seventh inning, logging 6 1/3 frames in which he allowed one run on four hits and three walks while punching out three and getting eight outs on the ground. The 22-year-old has submitted his best outings of the season in consecutive starts, as Thursday’s effort backed up six shutout innings on Aug. 14. Though Mercedes’ strikeout rate (7.3 per nine) has been more modest than his stuff — a mid-90s fastball that he can use for grounders, an above average changeup and a curve that flashes average to above-average — his 51.4 percent groundball rate suggests a pitcher who uses his size to work downhill and create mis-hits.

– Though his 17-game hitting streak came to an end on Tuesday, Matty Johnson has bounced back with back-to-back multi-hit games. The 26-year-old went 2-for-3 with a double to improve to .278/.376/.376 for the year.



Danny Mars collected his first hits following his promotion from Lowell, going 2-for-4. It was the switch-hitter’s 18th multi-hit game in 46 contests this summer in his pro debut.

– One start after his best outing of the year (six shutout innings), right-hander Ty Buttrey got shelled for eight runs (five earned) in four innings while walking six, punching out one and allowing seven hits (including a homer). The 21-year-old is now 0-4 with a 7.20 ERA in nine starts in Greenville with nearly as many walks (24) as strikeouts (27) in 35 innings.



– Shortstop Mauricio Dubon had his third straight three-hit game, going 3-for-6 and driving in a pair of runs. The 20-year-old native of Honduras, who moved to California in high school to pursue his dream of playing pro ball, is rapidly emerging as one of the most interesting under-the-radar prospects in the Sox system. He has the defensive tools and athleticism to play shortstop and the hand-eye coordination to make solid contact with flashes of power. He’s taken a swing-early-and-often approach, drawing just eight walks, but he shows the bat-to-ball skills to be productive even if he is less selective than the Red Sox prototype.



– The Red Sox drafted first-rounder Michael Chavis in no small part based on his power potential, and he’s been showcasing that trait in recent games. He went 2-for-4 with a double and triple on Thursday, giving the 18-year-old a .353/.421/.529 line with eight extra-base hits in 15 games in August.

– Right-fielder Luis Alexander Basabe went 3-for-4 with a walk. The 17-year-old is holding his own at a young age in the GCL, hitting .265/.330/.337 through 25 games.



– Catcher Isaias Lucena went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles. The 19-year-old is hitting .272/.390/.374 with 14 extra-base hits in 41 games.

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier
Kevin Millar

Kevin Millar

MLB Network analyst and former Red Sox first baseman Kevin Millar joined Middays with MFB on Friday to discuss the Sox and their reported contract agreement with Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

The Sox reportedly agreed to a seven-year, $72.5 million deal with the 27-year-old Castillo, who is known for his speed and his range in the outfield.

“I don’t know a whole lot about him. I don’t think any of us do. But you’re looking at the dynamic of the Cuban influence in baseball, starting off with Jose Abreu,” Millar said. “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.”

The years and money makes for a heavy investment for a relatively unknown player in Castillo, but Millar said the Red Sox had to have known enough good things about him to take the chance.

“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,” he said. “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.”

Red Sox fans continue to dream of the possibility of Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton coming to Boston via trade in the near future. The signing of Castillo may further open those possibilities as the Sox now have an influx of young outfielders. Millar wouldn’t rule out the possibility of the Red Sox making a push for Stanton if he’s made available.

“I’ll tell you what, the Marlins have kept themselves way above float the entire season, way better than people probably had them on the board to be,” Millar said. “Mike Redmond has done a great job, so that organization now has to sit back and wait to see. But the one thing you can’t teach in this game is right-handed power. Giancarlo Stanton has the right-handed power that Mark McGwire had back in the day, guys that can hit the ball 500 feet.

“So you can’t teach that. If the Marlins are willing to deal him — I don’t know where they’re at financially for their own organization — which it seems like the Marlins have in the past with trades, then yes I think the Red Sox, just like 10 other teams would love to see Giancarlo Stanton in the middle of that lineup. You could imagine the damage he could do at Fenway Park.

“This is where you get creative and crafty to figure out how to get the team right back on the board after a miserable-type season of 2014, a year from winning the World Series in 2013.”

Blog Author: 
Nick Canelas

According to multiple industry sources, the Red Sox are in the final stages of negotiating an agreement with Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo on a seven-year, $72.5 million deal that will take effe

The Red Sox have agreed to a seven-year, $72.5 million deal with outfielder Rusney Castillo. (Getty Images)

The Red Sox have agreed to a seven-year, $72.5 million deal with outfielder Rusney Castillo. (Getty Images)

According to an industry source, the Red Sox have reached agreement with Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo on a seven-year, $72.5 million deal that will take effect starting in 2014 and run through 2020.

Earlier this week, Red Sox GM Ben Cherington acknowledged that the Red Sox had worked out the 27-year-old (Cherington himself attended the workout) and had talked to him, but didn’€™t elaborate.

‘€œHe’€™€™€™s a player we’€™€™€™ve seen and we’€™€™€™ve talked to, but we’€™re just one of several teams that have done that,’€ Cherington said Tuesday at Fenway Park. ‘€œThere’€™€™€™s nothing more I can say.’€

The 5-foot-9 Castillo is viewed as a player with elite speed that allows him to be a game-changer on the bases and also permits him considerable range in the outfield, where he can play center or right. He also shows the ability to impact the ball as a line-drive/gap hitter.

Castillo’€™s former teammate Yoenis Cespedes offered the following description of Castillo to WEEI.com earlier this month: ‘€œIf he’€™€™€™€™s not a five-tool player, he’€™€™€™€™s a least a four-tool player. He’€™€™€™€™s very comparable to [Dodgers outfielder Yasiel] Puig. Obviously a different height and size, but very similar qualities.’€

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier

The friendly confines of Fenway Park have not been so friendly to the Red Sox lately.

Felix Hernandez

Felix Hernandez

The Sox came into their 11-game homestand last weekend feeling positive after a successful road trip but have stumbled yet again, getting swept in a four-game series against the Angels. The Sox were outscored 18-8 for the series and were one-hit by Halos starter Matt Shoemaker in 2-0 loss Thursday night.

The Red Sox are 2-6 through the first eight games of the homestand to fall to 56-71 for the season. They’re 18 games back of the first-place Orioles in the AL East and six games behind the Rays for fourth place.

While the Sox have been one of the biggest disappointments in baseball this season, the Mariners, who the Sox take on in a three-game series to close out the homestand, have been one of the game’s biggest surprises.

At 68-58, Seattle is just a half-game back of the Tigers for the final AL wild card spot, putting the M’s in contention for their first postseason berth since 2001. The Mariners dropped two of three to the Phillies this week but have won seven of their last 10.

Seattle’s emergence is due largely to its pitching staff, which leads all of baseball with a 2.93 team ERA. The Mariners, as expected, are headlined by ace Felix Hernandez, who leads the team is wins (13), ERA (1.99), strikeouts (197) and WHIP (0.87). However, Seattle also has been lifted by the emergence of unlikely studs Hisashi Iwakuma and Chris Young, who both are having impressive years in their mid-30s.

The Sox were shut down by this staff when they dropped two of three in Seattle in the lone meeting between these teams June 23-25. The Red Sox scored just 10 runs in the series, which was less than the Mariners’ total (12 runs) in the first game alone.

Here are the probable pitchers for the three-game set.

Friday: Felix Hernandez (13-4, 1.99 ERA) vs. Joe Kelly (2-3, 4.67 ERA)
Saturday: Chris Young (12-6, 3.07 ERA) vs. Brandon Workman (1-7, 4.26 ERA)
Sunday: Hisashi Iwakuma (12-6, 2.57 ERA) vs. Allen Webster (3-1, 4.73 ERA)


– No one has been hotter than David Ortiz as of late. The slugger was 14-for-26 (.538) with five multi-hit games through the first seven games of the Sox’ 11-game homestand before being given a day off on Thursday. Ortiz has made his mark in the Red Sox’ record books during this stretch as well. On Saturday, he hit his 400th and 401st home runs in a Red Sox uniform, making him the third player in club history to reach that mark behind Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski.Wednesday’s home run marked Ortiz’s eighth 30-home run season, tying him with Williams for most in Sox history.

– Catcher Christian Vazquez has been an exciting player to watch behind the plate lately. The 24-year-old caught three Angels stealing over the four-game series and picked off Howie Kendrick at first base on Monday. Vazquez has recorded nine outs by caught stealing or pickoff, tied for most by a Sox catcher this season. He’s had just nine stolen bases against him in 16 attempts this season.

– Mookie Betts looked like an impact center fielder for the Sox this week after being recalled to the big leagues on Monday. The second baseman-turned-outfielder made a number of strong defensive plays, showing both his range and arm in the process. On Thursday, Betts made an impressive leaping catch in left-center on a deep fly ball by Erick Aybar. The 21-year-old has been solid at the No. 8 spot in the lineup as well. He’s collected three hits, a walk and a run scored in his four games since his recall. His single on Wednesday extended his hitting streak to five games with the Red Sox dating back to Aug. 1. That streak was snapped with a hitless night Thursday.


– Robinson Cano got paid a significant amount of money to play for Seattle this season. So far, he’s earned his money. Cano is hitting .329/.397/.469 and leads Seattle in runs (66) and OPS (.865). He’s hit the ball well as of late, going 8-for-24 (.333) with three multi-hit games in the last seven.

– Kyle Seager has had a breakthrough season for the Mariners, leading the team in home runs (19) and RBIs (78). Seager has reached base in nine straight games and has scored a run in three of the last four.

– Iwakuma has pitched shutouts in consecutive games and has allowed just two runs in his last 29 1/3 innings. On Tuesday, he shut out the Phillies on four hits over eight innings, walking none and striking out 11. Iwakuma has struck out 19 and walked just one in his last three starts.


– While Xander Bogaerts‘ struggles adjusting to shortstop at the major league level have been well documented, his slump at the plate is notable as well. Bogaerts has one hit in his last 25 at-bats and has nine strikeouts in that stretch. The shortstop went on a 21-at-bat hitless streak before reaching on an infield single in the eighth inning Wednesday. He’s hitting .108 with 19 strikeouts since Aug. 1.

– Kelly’s Fenway Park debut last Sunday was not one the pitcher will want to be remembered for. The right-hander gave up seven runs on seven hits, including a grand slam to Jose Altuve, and six walks over four innings to take his first loss in a Red Sox uniform. Kelly is 0-1 with a 5.29 ERA in his first three starts with the Red Sox.

– The same Junichi Tazawa who was the reliable setup man during the Red Sox’ World Series run last year is the same Tazawa who has struggled mightily as of late. The righty has allowed baserunners in his last four appearances and has walked four in his last 1 2/3 innings.

On Monday, Tazawa gave up a pair of unearned runs by making two errors in one play. He loaded the bases again on Thursday before getting out of the jam. He has a 4.82 ERA in 22 appearances since July 1.


– Austin Jackson hasn’t given the Mariners the offensive boost they had hoped when they acquired him from the Tigers at the trade deadline. Jackson is hitting .227/.275/.267 in 18 games with Seattle and has seven hits in his last 31 at-bats.

– Young catcher Mike Zunino has been a liability at the plate for the Mariners lately. Zunino is 2-for-19 (.105) since Aug. 12 and has had just two extra-base hits since Aug. 1.

– It’s been a rough go at it for Mariners reliever Brandon Maurer when he’s actually been given the chance. He has a 13.49 ERA in his last three appearances and has given up nine hits in his last 4 1/3 innings.

Blog Author: 
Nick Canelas