Boston Red Sox: If JBJ fails is Rusney Castillo an option?

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JUNE 11: Xander Bogaerts (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JUNE 11: Xander Bogaerts (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

The Boston Red Sox have a bit of a problem in their outfield with Jackie Bradley Jr.’s issues at the plate. He can turn it around, but what if he doesn’t?

Boston Red Sox centerfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is having a rough go of it at the plate so far in 2018. The left-handed hitter is slashing .182/.276/.286 at the moment with 15 runs batted in and 28 runs scored. If you’re looking for a silver lining, there are a few. He’s 7-for-7 on steal attempts and still plays stellar defense. But, Bradley Jr. is known to be streaky, so he could breakout at any moment. If he doesn’t though, what about Rusney Castillo?

There’s a reason the Red Sox haven’t given Rusney Castillo a Major League look over the past few years. The 30-year-old is due a lot of money.

While he’s in the minors, that contract doesn’t go against the luxury tax, though. The money he adds to the luxury tax would also push the Red Sox back 10 spots in next season’s draft. Therefore, Boston seems adamant not to call him up.

Personally, I believe Jackie Bradley Jr. can (and will) turn it around this year. His numbers might not look stellar in the end, but will be serviceable enough considering everything else he can do.

That being said, what if Bradley Jr. sees his numbers drop even further? Something will have to be done at some point, right?

Anyone that follows my weekly prospect watch knows I’m all-in on the Castillo train. He gets a weekly section, although he’s well past prospect status. There’s a reason for that – he’s good at baseball.

Last year, Castillo slashed .314/.350/.507 with 22 doubles and 15 home runs in Triple-A. He drove in 43 runs and scored 52 more, while stealing 14 bases. This season, he’s leading the Pawtucket Red Sox in nearly every offensive category.

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He’s tops on the team in average (.307) as well as RBI (33) and runs scored (29). The right-handed hitter also leads in doubles (19) and is third in home runs (4), while being second in steals (6).

Although he’s not as ridiculously gifted defensively, Castillo’s still well-above average in the field. He’s got enough speed to cover plenty of ground and has top-notch arm strength.

His past MLB track record probably isn’t as bad as you remember either. Castillo slashed .262/.301/.379 in 99 games over parts of three seasons. The biggest thing that stands out to me is he was never given a lot of time to get accustomed to the Majors, playing in less than half-a-season each of the three years. If he was given more time to adjust, the numbers (already not bad) could have improved even more.

Call me crazy, but 99 games isn’t enough to determine how good someone will be in their career. It’s certainly not enough to consider them a bust when their numbers aren’t miserable.

All-in-all, Castillo has the skills to be a valuable asset to the Red Sox.

“That contract though.”

Let’s jump ahead past the All-Star break and say Jackie Bradley Jr. is still ice-cold and his numbers have only gotten worse.

The Red Sox have three options.

First, they can make a trade, and further deplete their minor league system.

Second, they could call up a different minor leaguer and fill the hole with someone less proven.

Third, they could swallow their pride (as well as a few spots in the draft order and some money) and bring Castillo back into the mix.

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If Bradley Jr.’s struggles continue, a move will need to be made. Admittedly, the drop in the draft order makes it tough to envision this outcome. However, teams trade prospects for players that can help them win right now. Wouldn’t this essentially be the same thing? Move back a few spots to bring more life to the offense?

Maybe it’s finally time for the Boston Red Sox to reintroduce Rusney Castillo to the Major Leagues.