BOSTON (CBS) — The Boston Red Sox have won the Rusney Castillo sweepstakes.
Earlier, the Red Sox and Tigers were reported to be front-runners to land Castillo.
The deal sets a new record for Cuban-born players signing in MLB. Yoenis Cespedes signed a four-year, $36 million deal in 2012. Yasiel Puig signed a seven-year, $42 million deal later that year. Last October, Jose Abreu signed a six-year, $68 million.
It’s been the success of those players — particularly the 27-year-old Abreu’s 32-and-counting home-run rookie season — that has made the act of signing a Cuban player for big money to appear like less of a gamble.
The decision to sign Castillo comes after Boston’s decision last winter to let Jacoby Ellsbury walk in free agency. Ellsbury ended up signing with the Yankees for seven years and $153 million.
The Wall Street Journal noted that 22 Cuban-born players debuted in MLB since 2010, which was twice as many as the number of players from 2005-09.
Castillo, 27, played outfield in Cuba, and he has some experience at second base. Known for his speed, he posted eye-popping numbers in the 2011 World Cup, hitting .512 with two homers, two triples and four doubles in 10 games.
According to Baseball America, “His best tool is his speed, as he’s an above-average runner and one of the better base stealers in Cuba. More of a doubles hitter than a big home run threat, Castillo puts a charge into the ball with a line-drive righthanded swing.”
“Some scouts who had followed Castillo with the Cuban national team felt he would be a steady, everyday center fielder in the big leagues, while others felt he would fit best as a fourth outfielder, with good speed and defense in center field, a line-drive stroke, an aggressive hitting approach and occasional power,” Baseball America reported this summer.
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