The Red Sox placed Rusney Castillo on outright waivers over the weekend, which meant he was leaving Boston’s 40-man roster soon no matter the outcome of that move. Castillo cleared waivers, and the Red Sox officially outrighted him to Triple-A Pawtucket on Monday afternoon.
While it might seem like a little bit of transactional deck chair shuffling for Castillo’s doomed Boston career, this move has move major implications for the Red Sox both in 2016 and beyond. Now that Castillo is off of the 40-man roster, his salary no longer counts against the luxury tax threshold. That’s roughly $10.4 million in average annual value that the Sox were able to cut from luxury tax calculations — that’s an easy way to justify adding more money to the roster before the trade deadline, and also frees them up even further next offseason, when their luxury tax payroll obligations were dropping to under $140 million even before you subtract Castillo’s previous contributions to that figure.
Like with Allen Craig before him, Castillo will still cost the Red Sox money — and plenty of it — but it’s easier for the Sox to handle spending that doesn’t also impact competitive balance tax figures. So, their straight-up payroll obligations for 2016 right now sit at nearly $149 million, but after you subtract the nearly $17 million in AAV Craig and Castillo account for, that’s a whole new player the Sox could add that they maybe couldn’t have before due to the luxury tax. As they’re already over the tax for 2016 as well, it might make it just a little easier to add someone in the present who has a deal with guaranteed dollars for future years, too.
It’s not ideal, of course: the ideal is that Castillo is helping out in Boston and worth the money the Red Sox promised to him. That hasn’t happened, though, and it doesn’t seem like they believe it’s going to happen, so being able to shift him elsewhere in a way that can help their financial flexibility in the future is a decent consolation prize. An expensive one, sure, but that money was being paid regardless: at least now the Sox can try to do something with the space, both on the roster and in the budget.