Tony Massarotti

Pursuit of Castillo Preceded by Failure

While we’re waiting on the Rusney Castillo verdict, just thought I’d get this off my chest:

(Reports: Cuban Free Agent Rusney Castillo Will Sign With Red Sox)

For all the criticism the Red Sox have taken in recent years for their trick-or-treat performance on (and off the field), one of the most overlooked is this: their failure in Cuba. Since signing Jose Iglesias to a four-year contract worth in excess of $8 million – chump change by many standards – the Red Sox have missed out on a host of Cuban defectors who have had a significant impact on the major leagues.

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In recent years, for example, the list of Cuban players to have an impact in the major leagues includes Yoenis Cespedes, Yasiel Puig, Aroldis Chapman and Jose Abreu, many (or all) of whom drew significant interest from the Red Sox. aroldis.pngFor whatever reason – and there a variety – the Red Sox fell short on all of them.

For example: years ago, after Chapman defected, the Red Sox hosted him at Fenway Park for a workout. Sox officials liked Chapman’s arm strength – who wouldn’t? – but they also deemed him to be terribly “raw” and resisted making an aggressive attempt to sign him. Chapman subsequently ended up in Cincinnati, where he has posted a 2.46 ERA and 103 saves while striking out a whopping 15.1 batters per nine innings during his career.

In the case of Abreu, the Sox fell just short of acquiring him, losing him to the Chicago White for, according to some reports, a mere $3 million. In 112 games for the White Sox this year, Abreu is batting .303 with 32 home runs and 90 RBI, numbers that would have greatly aided a Sox organization lacking in power hitters.

All of this may explain the club’s seemingly more aggressive attempt to acquire Castillo, who is regarded as a center fielder or right fielder with speed and power. The upcoming class of major league free agents is also decidedly thin, leaving the club with more limited options to address their need for offense.