Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo declared free agent, repped by Jay Z’s Roc Nation Sports

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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.

There is a “one million percent” chance Aroldis Champan will opt-out of his deal

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that there is a “one million percent” chance Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman will opt out once the season ends.

Just going by the math this makes perfect sense, of course.

Chapman signed a five-year, $86 million deal with the Yankees before the 2017 season. Pursuant to the terms of the deal he’ll make $15 million a year in 2020 and 2021 (he was given an $11 million signing bonus that was finished being paid out last year). This past season the qualifying offer was $17.9 million. Craig Kimbrel of the Cubs just signed a deal that will pay him $16 million in 2020, 2021, and 2022 (he’s making a prorated $16 million this year). Other top closer salaries at the moment include Kenley Jansen ($19,333,334); and Wade Davis ($18 million).

It’s fair to say that Chapman fits into that group and, I think it’s safe to say, more teams would take him than those guys if they were all freely available. As such, Chapman opting out to get more money makes all kinds of sense. Heck, opting out, getting slapped with a qualifying offer, accepting it and then hitting the market unencumbered after the 2020 season would stand him in better financial stead than if he didn’t opt-out in the first place.

The question is whether the Yankees will let it get that far or whether they’ll approach him to renegotiate the final couple of years on the deal or to add some years onto the back of it. If they’re smart they will.