DENVER – With all the focus on Javier Baez, the Cubs welcomed Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to Wrigley Field on Wednesday for a private workout.
An industry source confirmed the meeting, which had the Cubs featuring Castillo on the LED board in right field, a detail noticed by Ben Nicholson-Smith, a sportsnet.ca baseball editor who happened to be taking a stadium tour while vacationing in Chicago and put the image on Twitter.
The Cubs were out in force with five scouts at Castillo’s showcase on July 26 at the University of Miami, coming away very impressed with his upside. Baseball America reported more than 100 people attended that South Florida event, with 28 of Major League Baseball’s 30 teams sending representatives.
The Cubs view their Latin American operations as an organizational strength. There became a point in 2012 when they thought they would sign Cuban outfielders Yoenis Cespedes and Jorge Soler.
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The Oakland A’s landed Cespedes with a four-year, $36 million deal – the Cubs wanted to spread that kind of money across six seasons – and watched him develop into an All-Star before trading him to the Boston Red Sox in the Jon Lester deal.
Soler’s nine-year, $30 million major-league contract became a signature signing for the Theo Epstein administration. The 22-year-old slugger is projected to be a September call-up from Triple-A Iowa. The Cubs will have the financial flexibility to make another splash.
Baseball America listed Castillo at 5-foot-9, 205 pounds, with 70 speed graded on the 20-80 scale. His age (27), skill set and unrestricted free agency appeals to many teams. Represented by Jay Z’s agency, the Roc Nation Sports client has also been linked to the Red Sox, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies and Seattle Mariners.