Assessing the Possibility of Rusney Castillo Playing for Red Sox in 2020

Throughout Rusney Castillo’s time in Boston, the five-tool outfielder has faced much criticism, but his long stretch in Triple-A could finally pay off at the big-league level this season if Red Sox management decides his value is worth the expense.

Signing a seven-year, $72.5 million contract in 2014, Castillo had high hopes of becoming a Mookie Betts-type superstar for the Red Sox. With 2020 being the last full year of Castillo being under team control, there are swirling rumors around the MLB world that Castillo could see consistent big-league action for the first time in his career.

The 32-year-old outfielder has an annual average salary of $10,357,143. In 2020, Castillo will earn a base salary of $13,500,000, while carrying a total salary of $14,271,428. Essentially rotting in the minor leagues, Castillo hasn’t smelled the majors since 2016 as the Red Sox simply didn’t believe his contract value justified his spot on the 40-man MLB roster.

Castillo has been an outstanding minor league player, hitting .278 with a career-high 17 homers last season. In the majors, Castillo has hit .262 with seven homers in 317 at-bats during mere fill-in spot starts since 2014.

Tearing it up in spring training each and every year, the question of if Castillo will get major league time comes into question annually. But because of his non-roster spot, Castillo’s salary doesn’t count towards the luxury tax as the once-star Cuban outfielder sits in the minors, making more money than the coaching staff while hitting well above the league average over the past three seasons.

“Hopefully you find yourself in the big leagues, and not to say it won’t happen this year, but if it doesn’t, shoot, go out and be the same guy and maybe play a few more years,” said interim manager Ron Roenicke. Not ruling out a possible reunion at the major league level, the thought of Castillo in Boston during 2020 is slim but not unfathomable.

With injuries to any outfielders during the season, along with the combination of available money to now spend after the blockbuster Mookie Betts and David Price trade, the money to give Castillo if he is brought up is present. It’s just a matter of if Red Sox management wants to bring Castillo, a player whose prime is fading quickly, onto the roster.

“I try and work hard and try and take advantage of the opportunity I have in Triple-A and if they give me that opportunity to get back in the majors, I’m just always ready for that moment,” Castillo told WEEI this spring.

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