Boston's pursuit of Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo should come to a conclusion by week's end, one way or another. According to Rob Bradford, Castillo is expected to make his decision on which team to sign with in the "next few days."
The Castillo saga is a source of plenty of excitement in the midst of an otherwise dead period for Red Sox fans, watching their team play out the string in a lost season. The 27-year-old outfielder hopes to follow in the footsteps of players like Yoenis Cespedes, Yasiel Puig, and Jose Dariel Abreu as a ready-made (or close to it) major leaguer who can step in and help his team right away.
For the Red Sox, the focus will obviously not be quite so immediate. 2014 would provide at most a low-pressure chance to ease Castillo in before the Sox start 2015 with their eyes on October once more. That actually may prove to work against them, however. With the race seemingly down to the Red Sox, Tigers, and Giants, Boston stands out as the only team left that's guaranteed to miss out on the postseason this year. If the offers are similar, it might well come down to Castillo wanting to jump right into playoff baseball without having to wait for 2015.
Still, money is likely the biggest part of the equation here, particularly if Castillo is going to get a lengthy contract that could be both his first and last major free agent deal. Even if Castillo impresses, a six-year deal like Jose Abreu's would leave him hitting turning 34 in the first year of his next contract. And with all their young cost-controlled talent on the way/on the team, the Red Sox can certainly afford to splash some cash.
And, if they take Yoenis Cespedes' word for it, there's plenty of reason to do so. Bradford provides this quote from his former teammate:
Speaking to WEEI.com, Cespedes said of Castillo, "If 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."
At 5'8", it's hard to really draw many parallels between Castillo and Puig, but it's in line with what we've been hearing over and over again. The old "Brett Gardner with power" comparison is no small praise, and frankly not too far off from what you might say about Yasiel Puig...if he were 5'8".