Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo defected earlier this year and Ben Badler of Baseball America reports that the 26-year-old has been declared a free agent by MLB and will be represented stateside by Jay Z’s Roc Nation Sports.
Known for his plus-speed, Castillo checks in at 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds and hits from the right side of the plate. Badler writes that scouts don’t expect him to have the impact of Yasiel Puig or Yoenis Cespedes in the majors and that there’s a question of whether he’ll be an everyday player or a fourth outfielder. Still, he should generate plenty of interest.
Because Castillo played five years in Cuba’s top professional league, he will be exempt from MLB’s international spending cap. The Cuban market has become quite lucrative in recent years, so it’s a smart play for Roc Nation to get involved, even if Castillo isn’t expected to be a star in MLB.
The Rays have traded right-hander Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, per team announcements on Saturday evening. The Twins will receive minor league shortstop Jermaine Palacios in the deal. Despite previous speculation, recently-DFA’d outfielder Corey Dickerson was not included in the trade.
With Odorizzi, the Twins finally have the front-end starter they’ve been seeking all winter. It’s a bargain deal as well, as the 27-year-old righty is under contract through 2019 and didn’t require the club to part with any of their top-shelf prospects in the trade. Odorizzi will be looking to stage a comeback in 2018 after a dismal performance with the Rays last year, during which he eked out a career-worst 4.14 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 8.0 SO/9 through 143 1/3 innings.
Palacios, 21, ranked no. 27 in the Twins’ system last season. He split his year between Single-A Cedar Rapids and High-A Fort Myers, raking a combined .296/.333/.454 with 13 home runs and 20 stolen bases in 539 plate appearances. He’s expected to continue developing at shortstop, though he’s also seen limited time at second and third base during his four-year career in the minors.