Top Cuban center fielder Rusney Castillo defects

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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.

Red Sox to activate Dustin Pedroia from disabled list on Friday

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Manager Alex Cora said that second baseman Dustin Pedroia will be activated from the disabled list on Friday, Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe reports.

Pedroia, 34, had cartilage restoration surgery on his left knee in late October. He played in only 105 games last season, batting .293/.369/.392 with seven home runs and 62 RBI in 463 plate appearances. His offensive stats were his worst since an abnormally-bad 2014 campaign.

The 34-15 Red Sox have baseball’s best record. Eduardo Nunez has mostly been handling second base in Pedroia’s place, hitting a disappointing .243/.261/.361 in 177 trips to the plate. He has also, by most metrics, played subpar defense at the position, so getting Pedroia back will be a boon.