Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo agreed to sign with the Red Sox last night. According to a source, the deal is for six years, $72.5 million, making it the highest first-year contract ever for a Cuban player.
Castillo, 27, has gained 20 pounds since leaving Cuba and is now 5-foot-9, 205 pounds, with his best tool his plus-plus speed. The extra size and strength has translated into an increase in power, with some scouts now putting a 60 on his raw power after pegging him with below-average to average raw power while he was in Cuba. In games, at least while he was in Cuba, he’s more of a line-drive hitter with an aggressive hitting approach. He won a Gold Glove in Cuba in 2011-12, with the speed and reactions off the bat to profile in center field in the major leagues, even though his arm strength appears to have backed up since he left Cuba.
Castillo’s numbers were down from his usual pace in his final Cuban season in 2012-13, when he hit .274/.377/.399 in 68 games. The previous season in 2011-12, Castillo had hit .332/.395/.545 in 420 plate appearances with 16 home runs, 22 stolen bases (third in the league) in 29 tries and a league-leading 28-doubles. In 2010-11, Castillo hit .324/.373/.555 with 18 home runs in 400 trips to the plate and led Serie Nacional with 29 stolen bases in 35 attempts.
Castillo had played on the Cuban national team, though he didn’t participate in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. Since he’s 27 and has played five seasons in Cuba, Castillo’s bonus isn’t subject to the international bonus pools. Castillo is represented by Roc Nation Sports.