Episode 1: Fall of Rusney Castillo
I just want to point out that this articles information is not up to date. The reason I have posted this is because I plan on writing a series on multiple players, possibly for all major sports on players just like Castillo. It would have been a shame if the article that got me on this track was missed, so I would like to include it as Episode 1, or a prelude to the rest of the series.
Every year a prized prospect is drafted. Most won’t even make it to the majors. Some falter early on and don’t even make it past double A. No one ever bats an eye at this. International Free Agency is the same way except the danger of picking wrong is a whole lot more and a failure in the international market can be disastrous. Need proof? Ask the Red Sox, who in 2014 signed Rusney Castillo for 72.5M dollars out of Cuba. He has struggled to earn a spot on the team and in 2017 it’s all but a guarantee that he will be beginning the year in the minors unless something disastrous happens to their starting three of Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts, and Jackie Bradley Jr. looking to all build off of a spectacular start as a crew together.
So you have to ask what exactly spent the once promising prospect into baseball purgatory. In his first year in Boston he was looking like everything Ben Cherington told the fans that they’d be getting. In a small sample size he had 12 hits in 10 games, including 3 home runs and going into the 2015 season he was fully in the Boston plans. Then everything halted, he hit a meager .253 in 2015 and only 5 home runs in 289 plate appearances. Not exactly what Boston was hoping for; In 2016 He went into Spring Training battling Boston utility man Brock Holt for the left field spot; and after another poor showing for Rusney, Brock easily won the job going into the 2016 season.
In 2016 Rusney hit .250 in 9 games before finally being out righted off of the 40 man roster. Clearly with as much as he has remaining on his contract he sailed through waivers and right to the minor leagues where he continued his poor season of hitting .263/.317/.354. And then down the stretch Andrew Benintendi claimed the starting role in Left Field, and with his face as being the left fielder of the future and two other young stars in the other two positions. The once promising Rusney Castillo is now on the outside looking in and he has done nothing but hurt his cause.
He currently has 32.5M remaining through 2019 and a player option worth 13.5M for 2020. This isn’t good for him as that all but eliminates him from even being the back up for Boston as calling him up would instantly put them into the Luxury tax something they severely want to avoid going into the 2017 season. Plus his attitude hasn’t been the most stellar walking into 2017 season as manager John Farrell was very critical of the now 29 year old prospect’s lack of discipline. Rusney hit a routine ground ball to short stop that was turned into an easy double play after he slowly jogged down the line.
For a man with few options left he should be putting as much effort in as possible in redeeming himself, if not for Boston but for another team that might be willing to take a chance on him if Boston is willing to cover 70% of his salary. His eyes are clearly not on the prize and some are wondering how long Boston is willing to stick with him. For the record, Dave Dombrowski has stated he will let Rusney stay in the minors as he hopes he can figure it out for them rather than another team, but eventually they might just cut their losses if he continues on the track he has been on.