The non-waiver trading period ended Thursday at 4 p.m. ET, meaning MLB will turn now turn its attention to 26-year-old, free-agent, Cuban OF Rusney Castillo, says columnist Peter Gammons (Gammons Daily, July 30)…
Castillo became a free agent in June and quickly joined Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports.
The Mets were among several teams to attend Castillo’s workout in Miami last Saturday.
“He was really good,” a GM told Gammons. “He showed everything – power, speed, defensive ability. He hasn’t been a big performer in Cuba, but he looks like he could be really interesting. My guess is a 20-HR, 30-steal center fielder, who might be able to play second base. He’s a free swinger, but that can improve.”
He is 5’9″, 185 pounds, a right-handed hitter with a line-drive stroke and plus-plus speed, according to Ben Badler (Baseball America, July 20).
“Scouts also like his athleticism,” reporter Jesse Sanchez recently wrote (MLB.com, July 19). “He’ll have to start the season in the Minor Leagues, but there’s a belief that he could be in the big leagues by the end of the season. He’s expected to compete for a starting job in Spring Training.”
Castillo has a similar energy level to Dodgers OF Yasiel Puig, one team representative told Gammons, adding: “He has a lot of fun. This could be an interesting bidding war.”
According to Gammons, the Phillies already held a private workout for Castillo, who is expected to hold similar meetings with the Yankees, Astros, Red Sox and other interested teams.
Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer
The early buzz in baseball indicates Castillo’s bidding could get up to as high as $50 million, which is already chasing some teams away, such as the Twins (Sanchez, July 29). However, Castillo’s decision could ultimately come down to who gives him the most years on the deal. For instance, while Puig got a seven-year commitment, and Jose Abreu got six, Yoenis Cespedes only signed a four-year deal.
People in baseball had been saying Castillo can perform between a Brett Garnder and Endy Chavez level of production, maybe Jacoby Ellsbury, but not Abreu or Cespedes. They said he’s going to hit more doubles, steal more bases, hit fewer home runs and that prediction hasn’t changed much since his public showcase. He’s a little guy, they say, with a long, level swing.
I’m not sure how this type of player fits in with the Mets, who seem to want to acquire power more than speed. But, in this era of so few impact hitters, I think you should take advantage of whatever you chance get, regardless of how it happens, especially if he’s capable of playing shortstop, as some reports indicate he is willing to do.