It’s getting harder and harder to picture Rusney Castillo in a Cub uniform.
If the Cubs aren’t quite out of the Castillo sweepstakes yet, there’s definitely a growing sense the Cuban outfielder will go to a higher bidder, a source familiar with the negotiations said Wednesday.
The Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox are viewed as frontrunners, with the San Francisco Giants said to be lurking in the background. CBSSports.com also identified the New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies and Seattle Mariners as “serious players” with a final decision coming soon.
As the market for Cuban players keeps exploding, an industry source confirmed Castillo’s price tag will wind up being much closer to what the White Sox guaranteed Jose Abreu ($68 million) than what the Los Angeles Dodgers invested in Yasiel Puig ($42 million).
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Two weeks ago, the Cubs hosted Castillo for a private workout at Wrigley Field, putting his image up on the LED board in right field. They had also sent five scouts to South Florida to watch his showcase at the University of Miami in late July.
Baseball America listed Castillo at 5-foot-9, 205 pounds, with 70 speed graded on the 20-80 scale. Multiple team officials have said how much the Cubs like the 27-year-old athlete.
But that doesn’t mean the Cubs are prepared to go all-out now, given their strong collection of position-player prospects and especially if Castillo is being sold as someone who can immediately help a contending team in September.
With the Cubs playing for 2015, look for Theo Epstein’s front office to shop for an accomplished veteran hitter or two this winter, to help take the pressure off Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo.