So the Red Sox officially beat the Yankees, Tigers, White Sox, and others in a bidding war for 27 year old Cuban defector Rusney Castillo for 7 years and $72.5 million.
I’ve been somewhat skeptical — but mainly just intrigued — about the Sox’s recent strategy of hoarding tons of outfielders, as the team is now up to 6 possible starters in 2015: Cespedes, Bradley, Victorino, Craig, Nava, Castillo (and maybe Brock Holt). I would tell the readers of this piece how the Red Sox are gonna have to make a fair amount of trades in the offseason, but if you know enough about sports to find this blog, you know enough to already be aware of that.
Outfielding logjam considered, I love the deal. We’re all expecting this guy to be at least an average player, correct? Maybe he won’t be Jose Abreu, to whom so many are comparing him because Castillo’s $72.5 million winning bid beat Abreu’s $68 million as most all time, But given that Castillo’s salary is cheap by 2014 MLB standards, I love the signing.
An average player is worth about $12 million, as each WAR should be worth roughly $6 million on the free agent market, and an average player is worth about 2 wins. I think it’s fair to expect Castillo to get about 3-4 WAR for the first 4 years of the deal, and then be an average 2-WAR player for the final 3 years. Let’s go with the conservative estimate of 15 total WAR. That’s worth roughly $90 million on the FA market, and that doesn’t include inflation and all the money that MLB teams will get in new TV deals, thereby increasing the amount that each player will make.
No matter what the Red Sox do with their outfield, but especially if they give Jackie Bradley Jr. and his dirt cheap rookie deal the priority over some other guys, the Sox will get a lot more from their outfield than what their payroll in that area would suggest. That’s the kind of flexibility they’ll need to remember when pursuing an ace this offseason, preferably Jon Lester. Think about the position players and their 2015 salaries: Pedrioa, Cespedes, Castillo, and Craig are all making good money but still are underpaid. Ortiz, Napoli, and Victorino are all making good money, and are probably either underpaid or paid fairly. And then Bogaerts, Bradley, Vazquez, and Holt all make way less than their play is worth.
Combine all of that with a loaded farm system, and I don’t see why the Sox can’t go for 2 top of the rotation starters, one through free agency and the other through trade. Ben Cherington has been in a Daryl Morey “Collect Assets” mindset for a little while now, and the time to cash some of them in is the winter before the 2015 season.