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Saturday, February 22, 2020

Remember Rusney Castillo? He’ll make $14 million in Triple-A, then finally become a free agent

FORT MYERS, Fla.—On an unseasonably cool Florida afternoon, Red Sox regulars scattered like mice before the start of the annual spring training exhibition vs. Northeastern.

None of them were going to play, and therefore, none had to stay, the promise of a rare afternoon off beckoning like an oasis.

So in their place, a parade of prospects, minor leaguers, and fringe performers comprised the starting nine. Some—such as center fielder Jarren Duran—may have a future in Boston. Others—such as third baseman Chad De La Guerra or left fielder John Andreoli—are household names only in their own households.

But there, batting cleanup and playing right field, was a man with more name recognition than all of them combined, finishing his Red Sox career in a peculiar purgatory, population: one.

One of the strangest baseball stories of this period approaches an end.

 

QLE Posted: February 22, 2020 at 01:20 AM | 22 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: free agency, rusney castillo, triple a

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   1. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: February 22, 2020 at 08:51 AM (#5925986)
How far under the luxury tax threshold are the Sox? You can almost see a way out before the end of the season for Castillo. If the Sox disintegrate early they'd likely not be adding more salary, and might even trade away someone making some money. So then they could just release Castillo without the remaining salary putting them over the limit. Probably not going to happen, but you never know.
   2. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: February 22, 2020 at 10:53 AM (#5925994)
I think they are about $13 million under. I can’t imagine them calling up Rusney unless they unload more salary as the year goes on. I’d be thrilled if that happened. It’s hard to feel bad for a guy who has earned $70 million but I do. The guy isn’t great but he’s certainly deserved more of an MLB chance than he’s gotten.
   3. bachslunch Posted: February 22, 2020 at 12:25 PM (#5926005)
Interestingly enough, many Hall of Merit voters give minor league credit to pre-WW2 candidates who got stranded in the minors for one reason or another (Gavvy Cravath being one example). Not that Rusney Castillo would be any threat to make the HoM, but he could be the only post-WW2 player who might earn such credit in their case.
   4. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 22, 2020 at 12:33 PM (#5926007)
It’s hard to feel bad for a guy who has earned $70 million but I do.

Yeah, no.
   5. Adam Starblind Posted: February 22, 2020 at 01:20 PM (#5926013)
I don't remember following this story. What's his deal? He didn't hit in his half season, but he played superior defense. They could never find a spot for him on the roster--at any time during the last three seasons including in September? Looks like he hit at least a little in the minors all three years.
   6. Dog on the sidewalk has an ugly bracelet Posted: February 22, 2020 at 01:53 PM (#5926018)
As long as he's kept off the roster, his salary doesn't count towards the luxury tax. So for a team always near the limit, calling him up to be a 4th outfielder wasn't worth it.
   7. Jay Seaver Posted: February 22, 2020 at 01:55 PM (#5926019)
There was a loophole in the rules when he (and Allen Craig) were designated for assignment that their salaries wouldn't count against the luxury tax until they were back on the 40-man roster. That's been changed, but he was grandfathered, so even if he merited a call-up, that would have been $14M added to the Sox's payroll for tax purposes. He probably would have been useful, but not that useful.
   8. Mayor Blomberg Posted: February 22, 2020 at 02:48 PM (#5926025)
A more expensive Kei Igawa
   9. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: February 22, 2020 at 07:20 PM (#5926033)
Jay - Am I right that only the percentage of Castillo's salary for the time he's in the Majors counts. So if he were on the roster for 81 games (or maybe it's 90 of the 180 days) only $7 million would count. I think that's correct but I'm wrong regularly.
   10. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: February 22, 2020 at 07:41 PM (#5926036)
Not that Rusney Castillo would be any threat to make the HoM, but he could be the only post-WW2 player who might earn such credit in their case.


Edgar Martinez? Not that he needed it.
   11. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: February 22, 2020 at 07:45 PM (#5926037)
Edgar Martinez? Not that he needed it.

Wade Boggs would also have an argument for at least a season's worth (and needs it even less).

Kris Bryant could get credit for at least two weeks...
   12. cardsfanboy Posted: February 22, 2020 at 09:16 PM (#5926043)
I get that any system in place is going to have issues with it, that in an extreme situation could allow something like this to happen... this is why we need human beings running the ship, and who can make an unilateral decision to say "Hey, I'm the commissioner of baseball and this is f-ed up... for salary cap purposes, we'll treat Rusney as if he is being paid 1/4th of his salary.. .there is no reason for a guy to be in the minors making what he is, simply because of salary cap reasons.".... Mistakes happen... we get that, but at some point in time, we just need to shoot the lawyers and go with reasonable actions. (and yes i know after that decision is voiced, a bunch of lawyers and executives will look for the next Rusney... but that is a future problem to worry about, fair is fair.)
   13. Jay Seaver Posted: February 22, 2020 at 10:21 PM (#5926046)
Jay - Am I right that only the percentage of Castillo's salary for the time he's in the Majors counts

I honestly have no idea, although I think it would not just be in the majors, but every day forward: Once he's called up, that salary is on the books, even if he's sent back down to Pawtucket.

12 - The way the rule is now - you can no longer keep players from counting against the tax this way - is an attempt to deal with the current Castillo situation and how the Red Sox were able to clear tax space by gambling that they were paid too much for another team to claim them off waivers. By all accounts, Castillo has taken it in stride rather than complaining about being treated unfairly, and if he's not going to say anything, the league is certainly not going to do anything to help the Red Sox continue to dodge the tax after they've already gotten too clever with him once.

Why Castillo and his representatives haven't tried harder to find a new situation, I don't know. Maybe he worries about being blackballed as a malcontent, maybe he hasn't looked particularly great since 2017 and figures he won't catch on anywhere else, maybe some combination of the two. It's a weird and unique situation.
   14. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: February 23, 2020 at 12:53 AM (#5926050)
Payroll for luxury tax is 40-man roster. Castillo would have been prorated from the day he was called up, but would have kept counting even if he was sent back down.
   15. majorflaw Posted: February 23, 2020 at 01:37 AM (#5926051)
“ Why Castillo and his representatives haven't tried harder to find a new situation, I don't know.”

Is there another team willing to pay $14M for his 2020 season? His MLB performance to date makes him a backup OF and not a particularly good one. While he undoubtedly dislikes being stored in the minors he may well be happy with the rest of his deal. The usual complaint from folks stuck in the minors is that it’s costing them money. Difficult to argue that his performance to date would entitle him to greater compensation, were he not the property of the Sox. He may just be keeping his mouth shut while he counts his money. When he becomes a FA after this year he can negotiate his next deal,if there is one, from a position of strength as he will already be set for life.


“maybe he hasn't looked particularly great since 2017 and figures he won't catch on anywhere else,“

Maybe his agent made a few calls and told him that no other team is prepared to pay him anywhere near what his current deal does. As non-competitive as it may sound, sometimes ‘stfu while you count your money’ is the right answer.

   16. Walt Davis Posted: February 23, 2020 at 02:39 AM (#5926054)
Right, no team is picking up that salary and (I think) if the Red Sox eat the salary then it has to ge on the books. Now the man might be sufficiently content with $58.5 M that he's willing to walk away from the money for a shot ... or yes, in theory if he was doing well enough, he might be able to forego the $14 M for $5 M and a roster spot. Finally adding to the confusion though, the MLBPA wouldn't be happy and maybe the only way he can walk away from it is to retire which would obviously be pointless ... but if he wanted out bad enough, I'm sure they could work something out a la Andruw and the Dodgers.

Yes my underrstanding is once he's on the 40-man, the remaining salary would count against the cap. That means he wouldn't be added to the 40-man until they added him to the 25-man but yea, if he was sent down or released after that, the remainder would still count against the cap. But sure, it seems possible (not likely) that Rusney plays well enough and the Sox move enough payroll at the deadline (or just have tons of injuries) that Rusney is brought up for the last 2 months. His AAA numbers in 2017-18 were actually OK, not so great last year given the rabbit ball. He'd played mostly CF but last year mostly RF -- a team could probably do worse for an emergency OF.
   17. Sunday silence Posted: February 23, 2020 at 06:32 AM (#5926056)
or yes, in theory if he was doing well enough, he might be able to forego the $14 M for $5 M and a roster spot.


BUt is he even allowed to do that? WOuldnt the players union object if he is giving up salary? I thought that might be an issue but I havent studied this.
   18. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 23, 2020 at 10:27 AM (#5926073)
Dude put up a 93 wRC+ in AAA last year. 120 the year before. His Zips wRC+ is 77, Steamer 86. That's a guy who gets a minor league contract and an invite to ST.

Rusney is probably laughing all the way to the bank.
   19. Walt Davis Posted: February 23, 2020 at 04:35 PM (#5926106)
Snapper, we all understand that. Obviously he would need to either bounce back to his 2017-18 performance or the Red Sox in Aug/Sept are just desperate for bodies to trot out either because they've traded away a bunch or had a lot of injuries. Near as I can tell, Castillo is currently 6th-7th on the OF depth chart. Bradley is a pending FA so will probably get traded at the deadline if the Sox are out of it. If Pillar bounces back, he would draw trivial interest. Verdugo already has a bad back. Castillo has to outplay Cesar Puello to start to make baseball sense for the Red Sox which is hardly out of the question.

They are paying him whether he's on the 25-man or not so, if they reach a point where he won't trigger the lux tax, it's strictly a baseball decision based on who's available.
   20. villageidiom Posted: February 24, 2020 at 06:22 AM (#5926134)
CASTILLO EXERCISED A PLAYER OPTION FOR 2020. He had the choice to forego $14 million to be a free agent and catch on somewhere else. He chose not to.
   21. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 24, 2020 at 09:24 AM (#5926146)
CASTILLO EXERCISED A PLAYER OPTION FOR 2020. He had the choice to forego $14 million to be a free agent and catch on somewhere else. He chose not to.

That's likely the easiest decision he ever made.
   22. Rally Posted: February 24, 2020 at 11:47 AM (#5926177)
Is there another team willing to pay $14M for his 2020 season?


That's an easy no. The market for backup outfielders is tough. Cameron Maybin had to wait around awhile to get a 1.5m, 1 year deal with the Tigers. And this is a guy who had a 127 OPS+ in half a season of PT with the Yankees. Yeah, probably a fluke, but his OPS was about 100 points higher in the big leagues than Castillo had in AAA. Otherwise very comparable players - fast, can play all 3 spots, born 3 months apart in 1987.

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