Baseball America reports that Rusney Castillo, a top Cuban center fielder, has defected. Castillo is 26 and, because he has played for five years in Cuba’s top professional league, he is exempt from international signing bonus limits, thereby making him a totally unrestricted free agent. Well, eventually an unrestricted free agent. It’ll take some months for him to establish residency and be cleared by the U.S. government to be eligible.
Once he is eligible, however, he should draw a lot of interest. BA says that while he’s only 5’9″, he has a powerful, athletic frame. A gap hitter with speed to burn. Check out their entire take on Castillo here.
No surprise here: Chris Sale will start on Opening Day for the Red Sox, Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe reports. The Red Sox open the season on March 29 in Tampa Bay against the Rays. Sale will oppose Chris Archer.
Sale, 28, is the fifth different Opening Day starter the Red Sox have had in as many years, preceded by Rick Porcello, David Price, Clay Buchholz, and Jon Lester. Sale started on Opening Day for the White Sox in 2013, ’14, and ’16.
Sale finished second in AL Cy Young Award balloting last year and finished ninth for AL MVP. He went 17-8 with a 2.90 ERA and a 308/43 K/BB ratio in 214 1/3 innings. Sale and Clayton Kershaw (2015) are the only pitchers to strike out 300 or more batters in a season dating back to 2003.