With the signing of Aroldis Chapman and Raisel Iglesias over the past few years, the Cincinnati Reds have become something of a surprise landing spot for Cuban free agents. Why then, as the team continues to struggle with their weak offense, are the Reds NOT being mentioned as suitors for outfielder Rusney Castillo, who ESPN.com’s Gordon Edes reports is rocketing toward a decision?
Even playing in Great American Ball Park, the Reds rank 10th in the National League and 24th in the Majors in runs scored. Somehow, though, they’ve managed to hang around at the edges of the pennant race all summer, constantly pulling fans back into the fray just when we think it’s time to give our hearts over to the Bengals.
Actually, that “somehow” is the stellar starting pitching that the Reds have enjoyed this summer. Despite a recent slide by Alfredo Simon and injuries to Mat Latos and Homer Bailey, Cincinnati still ranks 4th in the NL and 6th in the Majors in runs allowed.
So the Reds aren’t in dire need of extra starting pitching, yet they signed Iglesias to a seven-year $30 million deal in June. Although the Reds sat in on one of Castillo’s show-and-tell sessions last month, so did nearly every other team, and Cincy has not been mentioned as a serious player for this services.
But why not?
Perhaps it’s his age, as Castillo is already 27 years old, but then that didn’t stop the Chicago White Sox from signing Jose Abreu, also 27. Maybe it’s the size of Abreu’s contract, then, that turns off the Reds: the ChiSox are paying the slugger $66 million over six seasons. Lots of bucks, to be sure, but they sure seem to be getting their money’s worth this season at least, as Abreu is living up to his advance billing.
As Edes points out, most observers don’t see Castillo as being quite as polished as Abreu was a year ago, and maybe with a lower overall ceiling. Castiloo may not reach the heights that Abreu has this season, but then again, he probably won’t cost as much.
Maybe the Reds just don’t like their chances, given that both the New York Yankees and (especially) the Boston Red Sox are said to be hot on Castillo’s trail. That might be a valid concern, but wouldn’t you have thought the Reds were disadvantaged on the financial front when they landed Chapman in 2010, too?
At a time when offensive talent is at a premium, and when the Reds are particularly light in left field, it seems like they should be seriously pursuing every possible option to bolster their lineup. Castillo presents as an in-his-prime talent who is there for the taking, even if that taking does involve a fair dose of risk.
Of course, there has been mention of the ubiquitous “mystery team” in the rumblings about Castillo. Could it be?