Do the Boston Red Sox have a replacement for Jackie Bradley if he is traded? There is Rusney Castillo and then there is Castillo’s contract.
The Red Sox have reportedly made efforts to deal Jackie Bradley Jr. and have failed at least at this point in time. The issue with any trade would be a replacement, but either Andrew Benintendi or Mookie Betts could comfortably move to center field. There is another option and that is International League batting champion, Rusney Castillo.
The most prominent negative is a significant number: $11,773,142 that represents the 2019 salary for Castillo. In 2020 that increases by approximately $2.5 MM. If the Red Sox place Castillo on the roster his salary immediately becomes part of the luxury tax misery that is facing the Red Sox.
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Castillo belongs in the majors for an extended period of time. The 31-year-old right-handed hitting Castillo has nothing to prove in Triple-A, but teams are undoubtedly reluctant to pick up the tab and the Red Sox have already had their own issues with excessive dead money – Allen Craig, Hanley Ramirez, and the crushing burden of Pablo Sandoval. Expect no real monetary concessions.
Can a monetary trade-off be accomplished? Bradley will be in arbitration and did make $6.1 MM for 2018 – expect that to increase, but certainly not in the rarefied Castillo range. The Red Sox have been linked to other potential trades with Rick Porcello and Xander Bogaerts being the most notable names.
Porcello is a pending free agent and will be on the books for $21.125 MM so lopping off Porcello would give some leeway regarding a return of Castillo. That, however, would be – at least from my view – remote. The Red Sox would like the payroll flexibility a Porcello exit would give towards a future contractual hit – think Betts or Chris Sale.
Then there is Castillo. Castillo has a .262 career average, but that is just in a small sample of 99 games. Extrapolated out to a full season Castillo would be a wash as an offensive replacement for Bradley, but then there is defense. Castillo is a capable defender, can play all three outfield positions, has a respectable arm, but, hey – he is no Bradley defensively. Few are.
The next issue is Castillo just may be a 4A player – excellent in the high minors and borderline in the majors. In another age or even this one, Castillo would be getting an extended trial with Boston or elsewhere. In the here and now Castillo would be an excellent fourth outfielder for the Red Sox, but you do not bind that type of payroll for a fourth outfielder.
To answer the headline the door is open, but just a sliver. For Castillo, his MLB potential is evaporating and may have to wait until his contract has finally zeroed out. I don’t expect Castillo to be on the MLB roster unless the Red Sox make drastic changes to their payroll situation. Too bad, since I think Castillo could provide value here or elsewhere.