By Eric Reynoso (Café Fuerte)
HAVANA TIMES — Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo became the latest multi-millionaire from the island by signing a $ 72 million contract on Friday with the Boston Red Sox, the highest amount awarded thus far to a player from the island.
According to sources close to the Boston franchise, Castillo’s contract extends through 2020, exceeding the $68 million the Chicago White Sox paid last year to sign his compatriot José Dariel Abreu, who with 32 homers and 90 RBIs is a leading candidate for the MLB rookie of the year.
The information was confirmed by commentator Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com, although other sources say the deal is for $ 72.5 million and for seven years.
The Boston Red Sox have not officially reported on the signing of Castillo. Several calls at noon Friday to their public relations office in Boston were not returned.
A Coveted Five Tool Player
The eventual signing of Castillo, 27, ends what had been 28 teams interested in his services, amid the furor unleashed for Cuban baseball players in the Major Leagues from the spectacular performances of Yoenis Cespedes, Yasiel Puig and José Dariel Abreu in recent seasons.
In fact, Castillo would join Cespedes in the Red Sox outfield, after Yoenis was traded to Boston by the Oakland Athletics last month.
Castillo, a native of Ciego de Avila, escaped from Cuba earlier this year and established residence in Haiti in order to begin the admission process with the US Department of the Treasury and then become a free agent.
Considered a highly versatile player, Castillo has a solid on-base percentage, power, is fast on the bases and is an exceptional fielder. He played with his native Ciego de Avila team for five seasons since his debut in 2008. His best performance was in the 2010-2011 season when he hit .324 with 18 homers and 22 doubles.
Castillo played on the Cuban national team on several occasions. In the XXXIX Baseball World Cup in Panama, in November 2011, he finished as the leading batter with a whopping .560 average.
An ability demonstration session held at the University of Miami on July 26 drew many MLB scouts to see Castillo’s skills and physical condition first-hand.
After that display of his talents, the Red Sox, the New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Seattle Mariners, Philadelphia Phillies and Detroit Tigers had requested private demonstrations.
Castillo is represented by the firm Roc Nation Sports, owned by wealthy rapper Jay Z. A promotional video based on his show in Miami was made by Roc Nation Sports to promote their figure.
Coincidentally, the US Department of Treasury informed on Wednesday that Jay Z’s trip with Beyonce to Havana earlier this year did not violate conditions of the US travel ban on Cuba.