Cuban free-agent outfielder Rusney Castillo is in the process of narrowing the field of teams that are bidding for his services, according to people with knowledge of the situation, and he could soon be ready to sign with a major-league club.
Desperate for impact outfielders, the Phillies had three scouts at Castillo’s unveiling workout last month in Miami and subsequently held a private workout for the player in Clearwater.
Industry sources have wondered how high the Phillies are on Castillo and do not view the team as a top candidate to sign the player. But general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has maintained communication with Castillo’s representatives.
“We continue to have dialogue,” Amaro said Sunday. “That’s really all I can say about it. We like the player. We wouldn’t be talking to his agents if we didn’t. It’s one of those open-market things. Everyone has limits. We’ll have to see where it goes.”
The Phillies have previously pursued Cuban outfielders Yoenis Cespedes and Jorge Soler, but both signed elsewhere. Last summer, the Phils landed Cuban pitcher Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez. A proposed $48 million contract was not finalized because concerns about the health of Gonzalez’ arm were raised in a physical exam. He later signed a three-year, $12 million contract with the Phillies.
After months conditioning and rehab on his shoulder, Gonzalez finally started to make strides as a reliever in Double A in July. He is currently pitching in relief at Triple A and could get a look with the big club in September. Though Gonzalez is working as a reliever, Amaro has said he still hopes the right-hander can be a starter down the road.
Castillo, 27, is 5-9 and 205 pounds. He clearly projects as a major leaguer, but there are differences of opinion in the scouting community on what type of impact he will have in the big leagues.
Scouts who are high on him say he could be a power-speed package with the ability to play center and right field.
Some reports have speculated that Castillo could get a deal that rivals the seven-year, $42 million contract that the Dodgers gave Yasiel Puig. Puig is just 23.
The Tigers, Yankees, Cubs and Red Sox are said to be the top players for Castillo.