Report: Red Sox and Tigers are front-runners to sign Cuban free agent Rusney Castillo

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We heard earlier this week that Cuban free agent outfielder Rusney Castillo was “moving quickly” toward signing with a team and now Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston reports that the Red Sox and Tigers “appear to be the front-runners.” He’s expected to make a decision no later than the weekend.

Castillo, 27, had a showcase late last month which was attended by representatives from 28 MLB teams. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported this morning that he has since had private workouts with eight teams, including the Red Sox, Tigers, Cubs, Yankees, Phillies, Giants, Mariners, and Reds.

Known for his plus-speed, Castillo is expected to command a contract north of Yasiel Puig’s $42 million deal with the Dodgers. It’s believed that he could make his way to the major leagues as soon as this season depending on where he ends up.

Erasmo Ramirez to be shut down with a minor lat strain

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Mariners right-hander Erasmo Ramirez has been shut down for two weeks with a minor lat strain, reports Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. It’s a precautionary move, as Ramirez felt some tightness in his arm and could not complete his scheduled bullpen session on Saturday.

There’s no word yet on whether Ramirez will be able to recover in time for the start of the season, though he’s expected to claim a rotation spot again this spring. The 28-year-old righty has been dogged by injuries throughout his six-year career, but finally managed to piece together a full season on the mound in back-to-back stints with the Rays and Mariners in 2017. He went 5-6 in 19 starts for the two clubs and turned in a cumulative 4.39 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 through 131 1/3 innings.

The Mariners are no stranger to pitcher injuries, either. They lost a number of their top arms to various elbow, arm and shoulder injuries last year and cycled through 40 total pitchers as they limped toward a 78-84 finish. Comments from club manager Scott Servais indicate that the team will keep a close eye on Ramirez throughout his recovery, though Divish notes that right-hander Andrew Moore and lefty Ariel Miranda could also slot into the no. 5 spot if Ramirez experiences further setbacks.