Red Sox Rankings: Top 5 Surprises of 2016 Season

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Apr 9, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Boston Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval (48) throws his helmet away after being forced out at second base in the seventh inning against Toronto Blue Jay at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 9, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Boston Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval (48) throws his helmet away after being forced out at second base in the seventh inning against Toronto Blue Jay at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mar 22, 2016; Jupiter, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox right fielder Rusney Castillo (38) at bat against the Miami Marlins during a spring training game at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 22, 2016; Jupiter, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox right fielder Rusney Castillo (38) at bat against the Miami Marlins during a spring training game at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

3. Rusney Castillo is in the minors

The Cuban-born Castillo should probably have sent a thank you note to his countryman, the White Sox’ highly successful and well-paid slugger Jose Abreu for his Castillo’s $72 million, seven year contract he signed in August of 2014.  He should also thank ex-General Manager Ben Cherington for putting together a terrible team that needed a boost by signing a player in a splashy way to try to please its fan base.  In his 40 plate appearance introduction to the majors that year, he posted a .333/.400/.528 batting line, slugging two homers and stealing three bases in ten games.  Fans figured he would blossom in 2015 once he started playing a bunch of games.

After nagging injuries slowed him in 2015, in August he posted an encouraging .338/.369/.525 batting line with three homers.  Once Jackie Bradley, Jr. started hitting last August, it appeared the Red Sox would be set for 2016 with Castillo in left field, Bradley Jr. in center and the blossoming  Mookie Betts in right field.  September was a regression for Castillo, though, as his August OPS of .894, plummeted to .489 in 110 plate appearances.

When the Red Sox signed outfielder Chris Young and brought veteran David Murphy into camp for insurance, perhaps Castillo felt the pressure.  The Cuban signee hit just 183/.246/.200 over 65 plate appearances in the Spring and in the last 10 days of camp the left field job was given to Brock Holt.  This was another big salary on the bench for the win-now 2016 Boston Red Sox.  Fortunately, after one start in eight games, the Red Sox realized that Castillo needed to play so they sent him down to Pawtucket.  This move made the release of David Murphy all the more puzzling.

Hopefully, Castillo will tear up AAA and show the Red Sox they should give him another opportunity at the big league level to really earn that $72 million.

Next: 4. Blake Swihart is replaced by Christian Vazquez

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