Move over Daisuke Matsuzaka. There might even be a worse signing in Red Sox history than them. And his name is Rusney Castillo.
The Red Sox fell victim to the hype and stigma surrounding Cuban ballplayers. Without seeing him play in a live game, they pounced on the opportunity to sign him to a seven-year deal worth $72.5 million. Thus far, it has been disastrous.
Last year, the 28-year-old posted a .566 OPS against right-handed pitching which essentially ruled him out from ever being an everyday big leaguer again. For those who are not familiar with OPS, it is on-base percentage plus slugging percentage and anything under .570 is “awful” according to FanGraphs.
This year, Castillo has spent a lot of time in the minors playing for eight figures. He’s hit .245 with a .624 OPS in 38 games down there and while he has been up with the big league club on three separate stints, it is clear they are not comfortable playing him.
Right now, he is only up because he is on the 40-man roster because otherwise, PawSox outfielder Ryan LaMarre would have likely been the better choice. Castillo’s role right now seems to be pinch running. And the organization viewed him so low that they would rather start Chris Young over him.
But in Young’s defense, he’s hitting .419 against southpaws this season and four of his five home runs have come against right-handers.
Young is just the stronger candidate to be playing everyday.
Set to turn 29 in July, the Jay Z client is at an age where most big leaguers peak. But for now, Castillo is a grossly overpaid pinch runner with the ceiling of a fourth outfielder — if he’s lucky.
Matsuzaka was on a World Series winning staff and stepped up in 2008 when it looked like the Sox should win back-to-back crowns. He also brought an international fanbase to Boston and gave the Red Sox a Japanese pipeline — making signing the likes of Hideki Okajima, Takashi Saito and Junichi Tazawa feasible. No matter what, they probably could have gotten their hands on Koji Uehara.