Cuban free agent Rusney Castillo is expected to make a decision about where he will sign at some point this week, since his goal is to play in the majors before 2014 ends. The Red Sox are one of six "serious players" for Castillo's services, according to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, along with the Tigers, Phillies, Cubs, Yankees, and Mariners.
You might have noticed something about that group: all of them have money. The extent of financial flexibility the Red Sox will have during the 2014-2015 offseason does give them an advantage over most of the rest of this pack -- Boston only has $94 million on the books for 2015 at present -- but it's not as if any of these clubs are automatically going to be outbid by the Sox, no matter how wide open the coffers get. The Mariners are probably the best bet to be scared off, but they've been desperate for outfield help for a while now, and Castillo might be a better bet than some of their current options despite not playing since 2012 thanks to both a suspension and his departure from his homeland.
The price range for Castillo hasn't changed much since last we checked in, with Heyman suggesting he could sign for anywhere between $35 million and $55 million. While Castillo is seen as an outfielder -- one capable of playing center field -- the Yankees are viewing him as a second baseman, and he has spent time both there and at third base while playing for Serie Nacional in Cuba.
Castillo has "above-average" power, and as said, could play center in the majors. There's potential for a high-quality player here, though, have some also seen him as a fourth outfield type: remember that we don't get a lot of middle ground on the scouting reports for Cuban free agents, though, as they tend to talk up the extremes on both sides rather than the middle ground.
What the Sox would do with Castillo is unclear, but they could have a need at third base, and Fenway Park necessitates two center field-caliber players in the outfield at a time in order to cover the vast territory between center and right field. Acquiring him would put someone out of a job, whether it's Will Middlebrooks, Shane Victorino, Daniel Nava, or, at least for a time, Mookie Betts. It would also more than likely lead to a trade of one or multiple players over the winter in order to get the Red Sox help somewhere else on the diamond, most likely the mound.
Before getting too far into that, though, let's see if the Sox end up besting these other five clubs for Castillo's services. Then we'll wonder what the next steps are.