No, this is not last season’s news. The Boston Red Sox have, once again, sent Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo back to the minors to work on his game.
Last year, Castillo was injured during spring training and was sent to the minors to recover. He was initially competing with American prospect Mookie Betts for the job as Boston’s center fielder. Instead, he stayed in the minors and, once he was called up again, was moved to left field.
It appears that the Red Sox presently see their $72.5 million invested in a glorified fifth outfielder role, and would like to see him play more games at the minor league level. The move makes sense, because Castillo does need to play if he is going to attract attention, whether by the Red Sox coaching staff or by other teams looking for a trade.
Castillo is signed through 2022, which makes him an expensive asset to just be riding the bench. The Red Sox execs may have a bad taste in their mouths regarding Castillo since the slight tease in 2014, when he hit .333/.400/.528 with two home runs and six RBIs in only 10 games. In 2015, once he was called back up with the big club, Castillo hit .253/.288/.359 with five homers and 29 RBIs in 80 games.
Castillo was also less than impressive this spring training, hence why Holt and Young got their roles to platoon out in left to start the regular season. Castillo had only played one game for the Red Sox this year, going 2-for-4 with a double.
Apparently, manager John Farrell‘s mind was already made up before last night’s game, or else Castillo would have had more opportunities to prove himself. It was likely more to do with seeing if Holt and Young could handle the job. It’s hard to see Castillo usurping Holt, considering the 2015 All-Star utility player already has two home runs and eight RBIs in only six games. And, Scott Lauber of ESPN reported earlier that Farrell likes Young to match up against lefty pitchers, so there’s not much room for Castillo to wiggle back into Boston’s good graces there, either.
What Castillo needs is simply to be dominant at the plate. Easier said than done, but it is what he needs to do. Everyone knows that he can play defense, but so can Holt and Young who are hitting better than him. At least, they are giving Farrell what he wants from them, at the moment. With the amount of money that they are spending on Castillo, the Red Sox would love it if he became an offensive threat with the bat. Then, they could use Holt in other places, like last season, as their solid utility player at any time. Young could still be used for lefties, if needed. As it stands right now, that strategy is handcuffed by making Holt the starter in left field, restricting Farrell’s options if someone in the infield were to be injured, sick, or just needs the day off.
But, don’t expect that to change if Castillo can’t get his bat to light up minor league pitching. Then, the bigger issue will be what to do with such an expensive asset that isn’t producing. Can’t use it? Can’t trade it.