REPORTS: Tigers miss out on Rusney Castillo, who signs with Red Sox
Having traded their center fielder of the present, the Detroit Tigers needed a center fielder of the near future.
By trying to outbid the rest of baseball for the services of Cuban defector Rusney Castillo, the Tigers had hoped that they could install him in center for the next few years.
That would have given them a way of replacing Austin Jackson, who was dealt to Seattle at the trade deadline, at least until first-round pick Derek Hill — an Austin Jackson clone picked out of high school in this summer's draft — is ready to go in a few years.
They’ll have to take another route to fill the gap, though, as multiple reports Friday had Castillo picking the Red Sox over the Tigers.
While most thought the Tigers were a finalist for the player's services, general manager Dave Dombrowski said in an MLB Network Radio interview the team was informed early Monday that they were out of the bidding, and hadn't had contact since then.
It's not surprising, given how high the bidding actually went.
Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com reported it was a six-year, $72-million deal, a record first contract for a Cuban player.
Castillo is represented by Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, which negotiated Robinson Cano’s monster deal in the offseason. Since he’s older than 23, and played five professional seasons in Cuba, he is not subject to baseball’s international signing limitations.
The 27-year old Cuban star is a speed merchant who would be a natural fit in almost any team’s outfield, but could also play infield.
And, at a solid 5-foot-9 and 205 pounds, he’s got more tools than just one, flashing power at his July 26 showcase at the University of Miami. Baseball America’s Ben Badler compared him to a young Rajai Davis, the Tigers’ current primary center fielder, and the man he would have most likely supplanted in Detroit.
Since Castillo hasn’t played an organized baseball game in more than a year, and has yet to obtain a work visa to play baseball in the U.S., it could have been a rush for the Tigers to get him ready for the postseason.
Dombrowski said in the MLB Network Radio interview that all of their plans for Castillo were aiming toward 2015, and he was never in the team's plans for this year.