Certainly to land a star like David Price, you have to be willing to give up a good piece. The biggest piece the Detroit Tigers shipped away in last month’s three-team trading deadline deal with the Tampa Bay Rays and Seattle Mariners was centerfielder Austin Jackson. But, did the team have an ulterior motive in shipping out Jackson?
Maybe, if it could land them a star centerfielder out of Cuba, Rusney Castillo.
Castillo, 27, fits the mold of successful Cuban exports that have recently flooded into the major leagues. He has great speed, is very athletic, fields his position well, and has power. These are things that the Tigers have lacked consistency with this season. He is also drawing comparisons to non-Cuban players such as Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury.
If everything goes to plan, and Castillo is signed, he could be with the Tigers immediately and in the playoffs if the team shakes off the doldrums to advance. One item that may hold that up, the Cuban exile has a travel visa, but not a work visa just yet. After signing a contract, that process would have to be expedited so that Castillo could get on the roster by Aug. 31 and be eligible for the postseason.
Most baseball insiders believe he is big league ready, and has a lot of professional experience with his age being in the late-20’s, but he has not played professionally in more than a year.
Detroit is not alone in its pursuit of Castillo.
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) August 15, 2014
Of course, this really means nothing because often a surprise team will come out of nowhere in international signings to pluck the player away from the highly rumored teams.
The visa factors, and perhaps the desire to be on a postseason roster if he is able to make the team and they make the playoffs, means Castillo’s decision is forthcoming. In fact, his representatives have been reviewing all submitted offers since Friday. The player should be making a decision sometime this week.
Many believe it could possibly take $45 million or more to land Castillo. With teams offering roughly the same figures, due to the international signing cap, could the Tigers have been more willing to part with Austin Jackson to offer Castillo a spot to start immediately as a bargaining chip?
If that was the plan, we should know if it worked very soon.