Red Sox Rumors: Rusney Castillo will pick up 2020 option
By Sean Penney
Rusney Castillo reportedly doesn’t plan on opting out of his contract and will remain with the Boston Red Sox in 2020 despite no path to the majors.
Most minor league players dream of making it to the big leagues. Even for those who have already had a taste, the goal is to work their way back to the majors. Not Rusney Castillo. He’s content with collecting his paycheck from the Boston Red Sox even if it means another season toiling away in Triple-A.
Castillo has the option to opt-out of the final year of the 7-year, $72.5 million deal he signed in 2014. Doing so would forfeit the $13.5 million he’s owed in 2020, a hefty salary he almost certainly wouldn’t recoup on the free-agent market. That’s not a risk Castillo is willing to take.
According to Sports Illustrated’s Stephanie Apstein, Castillo won’t opt-out, committing himself to another year in the Red Sox organization.
"“You’re not going to cancel something when you don’t have anything else,” said Castillo."
In fairness, who among us would give up $13.5 million without a guarantee that a major league contract would be waiting on the other side? Castillo can’t be blamed for taking the money but there are drawbacks to his decision. By not opting out, Castillo is sentencing himself to another year of baseball purgatory.
Castillo hasn’t appeared in the majors since 2016 when he went 2-for-6 in his brief nine-game stint before his banishment to Pawtucket. The Red Sox outrighted him off their 40-man roster that summer, ensuring his salary would no longer count toward the payroll for luxury tax purposes.
Little did he know when he signed the richest contract ever for a Cuban free agent, Castillo’s salary would be the biggest hindrance to his career.
The 32-year old has been arguably the best hitter for the Triple-A PawSox, hitting .303 with 37 home runs in 324 games over the last three seasons. He put up respectable numbers in 99 career games with the Red Sox from 2014-2016, hitting .262 with a .679 OPS and flashing upside that suggested there was potential for more.
More from Red Sox Rumors
- Is Jean Segura the solution to Red Sox’ Trevor Story concerns?
- Red Sox news: Orioles eyeing former Boston arms, Dansby Swanson to Cubs, JD Martinez to Dodgers
- Did Alex Cora just drop a huge hint about Red Sox free-agent target?
- MLB insider hints Red Sox teardown may continue with two trades
- Division rival targeting Red Sox 2022 standout Michael Wacha
Castillo is a major league-caliber player. He’s just not quite good enough to crack Boston’s loaded outfield. A Red Sox team with MLB’s highest payroll that is desperately trying to reduce their luxury tax bill has found Castillo to be too expensive to be their fourth outfielder. There was no way that he was getting called back up to Boston and he’s far too overpaid to generate any interest as a trade chip, which has left Castillo stuck in the minors as his prime years slip away.
Castillo still lives in an apartment in Boston so that he can stay close to Fenway Park in case the Red Sox ever decide to bring him back. He makes the 50-mile daily commute down I-95 to Pawtucket, refusing to relocate closer to the club’s Triple-A affiliate because he honestly believes he deserves to be in the big leagues. He’s holding out hope, waiting for a call that will never come.
He has a chance to escape. Castillo can still opt out and sign elsewhere. It might be a minor league deal with incentives that still falls far short of what he can earn with the Red Sox next year but at least he’d have a chance to make a major league roster. It doesn’t appear that he has any intention of doing so though. Castillo appears destined for one more year of being the highest-paid minor league player, forced to wait another year to be given a chance to reclaim the dream that was taken away from him.