John Farrell

John Farrell on Rusney Castillo: ‘It’s an exciting, athletic player, by all accounts’

August 22, 2014 - 3:42 pm

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 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."