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.
Jon Heyman has been hot on the free agent trail today, reporting that the Padres have made offers both Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. The offer to Machado is believed to be for eight years and about $250 million, while the offer to Harper is believed to be for more than that.
Heyman was reporting on Harper earlier, tweeting that the Phillies are the favorite to sign him. He added this evening that Harper has multiple long-term offers at more than $30 million annually. Regarding Machado, Heyman noted that while Machado was believed to have had a preference for the East coast, he will go for the best deal now, which puts the Padres firmly in the picture.
The Padres reportedly met with Machado last week. A late entrant into the sweepstakes, the club has shown the willingness to spend, signing Eric Hosmer to an eight-year, $144 million contract last year. If he goes to San Diego, Machado would be the full-time third baseman with Luis Urias handling shortstop.
Nothing appears close, but we’ll take anything resembling a spark to light the hot stove.