Rusney Castillo vs. Shane Victorino: The Future of Boston’s Outfield
In August, the Boston Red Sox signed Cuban-defect outfielder Rusney Castillo, in hopes that he would mimic the production of players like Yasiel Puig and Jose Abreu and fill the void left by Jacoby Ellsbury. Castillo’s contract, worth 72.5 million dollars, is good for the next seven years.
So he must be in the long term plans, right?
Yes, of course he is, which is why the BoSox signed him for that amount. Also, part of the reason why they traded Yoenis Cespedes to the Detroit Tigers in December. But when Spring Training rolled around, a new position battle emerged. It was almost assumed by many in Red Sox circles that Castillo would play center, Mookie Betts would play right, and veteran Shane Victorino, who was coming off a hip injury, would be on the bench. However, Castillo suffered an oblique strain early in camp. This, combined with the stellar spring of Betts and the organization’s dedication to Victorino, put Castillo on the outside looking in. Even so, many believed that Castillo would still end up on the 25-man big league roster. Instead, the Red Sox opted to keep Allen Craig and Daniel Nava on the team as bench players, as opposed to Castillo. Thus, the young Cuban has begun the season with Triple-A Pawtucket, while Betts and Victorino started on Opening Day.
It’s hard for me to believe that all these outfielders will stay through the summer. By the trade deadline at the latest, a minimum of two outfielders may have to be dealt in order to make room for the lucrative Castillo. Much of the conundrum is based around what the Red Sox want. Do they want to carry to extra outfielders? Do they want to fully commit to Castillo at this juncture in time? Do they want to keep Victorino until the end of the season to fulfill his contract? Who will play right or center long-term?
There is no question that a conflict of interest exists when it comes to Castillo and Victorino. On one hand, there is the younger more athletic, but unproven Castillo. The other side is Shane Victorino, the veteran player with playoff experience and a chip on his shoulder.
Castillo’s demotion last week, and its continuity thus far, has led us to believe one thing here in Red Sox Nation: for now, Shane Victorino is our starting right fielder, and the future is very ambiguous.