As the season moves into August, the international free agents are becoming available including outfielder Rusney Castillo from Cuba. There is no doubt San Francisco has interest as they have been scouting the “five-tool” defector in Miami, according to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com.
The 27-year old is an intriguing young talent considering his athletic body & baseball skills. He stands at 5 foot, 8 inches and around 200 pounds though who will garner at least $6 million per season. His speed would make for an interesting fit at AT&T Park in center field as he has been compared to Brett Gardner, but with more power. That is an impressive comparison as Gardner has the speed, patience, fielding, arm, and newfound power.
Therefore, the Giants NEED to be aggressive here. The aging, overpaid roster that Brian Sabean has put together will need a spark in the lineup for the future, as they watch Yasiel Puig turn into one of the game’s best players in the past calendar year. The Dodgers signed Puig to a 7-year, $42 million contract, which could drive the price up for Castillo as teams try to find some of that magic.
Michael Morse will be a free agent at the end of the year and he has hurt the Giants with his lack of fielding, speed, patience, and consistency. They could re-sign him, but it would be ideal for him to play either first base or DH. Angel Pagan has missed more than 100 games in the past two seasons and as of right now, the 4 year, $40 million deal Sabean gave him has been a mistake. The only piece that is a fixture in the outfield is Hunter Pence. He was their 2013 MVP and has been that for them in 2014. Needless to say, Sabean needs to reevaluate their players and look at shaking things up.
In order to do that, he needs to pursue Castillo forcefully. We have seen what recent Cuban players have done in the show including Puig, Jose Dariel Abreu, and Yoenis Cespedes. They have exceeded their contracts so far and it is likely Castillo would make the same impact. With Cespedes shockingly signing with the Oakland Athletics before the 2012 season, it has been shown that a huge offer could be the difference maker. Of course, every person is different and there is a chance he wants to stay close to Miami.
Castillo debuted in 2008 with the Ciege de Avila Tigers at age 22 and went 15 for 43 with 3 doubles, a triple, and four walks. In 2009, he hit for a slash of .303/.333/.404 and a line of .324/.373/.555 in 2010. He hit 22 doubles, 18 homers, scored 75 runs, and drove in 79 in 88 games. He was top 10 in RBI, total bases, stolen bases in the Cuban Series Nacional. You can click here to watch video of him.
According to Baseball America’s Ben Badler, “His best tool is his speed, as he’s an above-average runner and one of the better base stealers in Cuba. More of a doubles hitter than a big home run threat, Castillo puts a charge into the ball with a line drive right-handed swing, though he can get long to the ball at times and some scouts think he’s prone to chasing pitches off the plate.”
Right now, the Giants sit 2.5 games back of the Dodgers for first place in the division, so there isn’t a reason to panic, but they coughed up a 9.5 game lead in three weeks which puts a bad taste in fan’s mouths. In the wild card race, they hold the number one slot right now and if they season ended today they would host the Cardinals in the one game playoff. San Francisco tries to take three out of four from the Mets in New York Monday as Tim Hudson (8-8, 2.71) and Dillon Gee (4-4, 3.77) face off.