Rusney Castillo fails to earn roster spot

The Red Sox have held firm to the stance that opportunities for Castillo would depend on a combination of the team’s needs and how well he was performing.This spring, Castillo hit an impressive .368/.385/.526 with a home run, three steals and three doubles. This production is much different from that seen at last season’s spring training, where Castillo’s unsatisfactory stats foreshadowed a disappointing season.

Though Castillo’s performance has spiked, a trio of star-caliber outfielders block his route to Boston. His only options now are to await an injury or a trade to open a spot for him.

“The need is going to be the main thing,” Red Sox manager John Farrell told reporters Sunday. “At this point, the durability of our outfield, particularly in Rusney’s case–when you just evaluate the skills and the overall durability–we happen to be in a very strong and healthy place with the outfield that’s currently here.”

Castillo’s contract is also holding him back.

When the Sox took him off their 40-man roster last year, Castillo’s $10.36 million annual average salary stopped counting towards the team’s payroll for luxury tax purposes. This adds hesitation, as the Sox consistently make moves to avoid steep luxury tax penalties.

Boston’s 2017 payroll currently stands at north of $193 million, per Spotrac, leaving them very little wiggle room under the $195 million tax threshold. Unless a concurrent salary shedding move is made, adding Castillo back to the 40-man roster would send the payroll soaring past that limit.

And, of course, adding Castillo means removing someone else who could be lost to another organization.

 

For now, Castillo waits in the wings as a potentially useful depth option. But that doesn’t mean we’ll be seeing him in Boston anytime soon, or ever again, for that matter.

Jess Dillon

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