August 22nd, 2014
We’re expecting to talk with Dave Dombrowski in person at Target Field later this afternoon about the Tigers’ involvement in the Rusney Castillo bidding. He talked a little earlier, though, with MLB Network Radio, where he told Jim Bowden and Casey Stern that they made a substantial offer, but were out of the bidding a few days ago.
“I don’t think we were ever really close,” Dombrowski said. “We were interested in him and we made we thought was a real solid offer, but we went where we thought we were prepared to go, which was somewhere in the rumored neighborhood of what was out there.”
That offer, Dombrowski said, was as far as they were willing to go. Whether they fell short in years or money isn’t clear, but his suggestion was that it didn’t get them to the final bidding the last couple days.
“We were basically told earlier in the week — I think first thing Monday — that we were no longer a participant,” Dombrowski continued. “We haven’t had any discussions the rest of the week.”
Though a lot of speculation had Castillo as a potential contributor for the Tigers down the stretch and into the playoffs, Dombrowski said that wasn’t their plan. Their interest in Castillo was almost exclusively for next season and beyond.
“Never was he in our plans, despite some rumors, in our plans for the 2014 season,” he said. “With the amount of time he had off, everything we were discussing was towards 2015.”
Dombrowski’s scouting report on Castillo: “We thought that he’d be a real good center field. He’s got above average speed. We thought he’d be an above-average basestealer at the big league level, and probably 15-type home run power. A real good all-around player is how we all looked at him.”
The waiting game for Rusney Castillo appears to be nearing an end. It does not appear to have a happy ending for Tigers fans, whose wait for a long-term solution in center field will apparently continue into the offseason.
Multiple reports, including MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez, have Castillo set to sign with the Red Sox for six years (not including this season) and $72 million.
Crazy things happen; remember, the Tigers made a last-second push to sign Anibal Sanchez after he was set to agree to join the Cubs two years ago. The reports, however, make it sound increasingly close to done. Those financial terms would be the largest deal ever signed by an “amateur” player, from Cuba or any other country.
A six-year deal would take Castillo through his age-32 season, but it’s also the same number of years Jose Abreu signed for last fall, just before his 27th birthday. And while Dave Dombrowski has been extremely quiet on the team’s interest in Castillo over the past week or two, he acknowledged two weeks ago that the success of Abreu, Yasiel Puig and others in recent years have changed the market for Cuban players.
The Tigers were interested in Castillo even before trading Austin Jackson away, and they were very interested after that. Unless something crazy happens, Detroit is going to be in a bind in center. Derek Hill, their top pick in June’s draft, is at least a few years away, and he’s by far the best center-field prospect in the system. Rajai Davis is not a natural center fielder, nor are their options in the upper levels of the system. The free-agent market for center fielders this winter is weak, with Colby Rasmus the lone everyday player in a thin group.
Detroit might have to swing a trade to address the position for 2015. One team with outfield talent to spare, ironically, could be the Red Sox.
The Tigers also remain shut out on the Cuban market, despite recent forays to get involved. They did not get Jose Iglesias when he signed as a teenager five years ago, and their efforts to sign Yoenis Cespedes in 2012 stalled when Victor Martinez’s season-ending knee injury led them to make a run at Prince Fielder instead.