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Red Sox, Tigers front-runners for Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo

Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo
Cuban outfielder Rusney CastilloDennis Grombkowski/Getty Images

The Boston Red Sox are having an off year, but they could end up winners in the sweepstakes for Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo. According to a report by Gordon Edes of ESPN Thursday, two league sources said a decision could come no later this weekend. The Red Sox and the Detroit Tigers appear to be the two teams leading the way for his services.

In adding Castillo, the Red Sox would be adding another player defected from Cuba to their outfield. The team recently acquired Yoenis Cespedes in a trade with the Oakland A’s. Castillo would also add a much-needed bat to the anemic Red Sox offense. A source close to the negotiations said the Red Sox are “optimistic” they will be the team Castillo signs with.

On Tuesday, an MLB report confirmed the Red Sox interest in the 27-year-old outfielder. Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said the team has seen and evaluated Castillo and would love to add his combination of speed and power to the team, but wouldn’t address the team’s chances of signing him.

He said, “I’m not going to get into our evaluation in public. Again, we’ve seen him, we’ve talked to him and we’re one of several teams that have done that. There’s not really anything else I can say.”

The face that the Red Sox does have Cespedes on the team could be something that draws Castillo to Boston, but the Red Sox being out of contention could be what draws him to a team like the Tigers. Detroit could use an outfielder this season and Castillo is a player that is believed to be close enough to the big leagues to be able to help a contending team this October.

At 5-foot-9, 185 pounds, Castillo has drawn comparisons to players like Andrew McCutchen and Yasiel Puig. He has the versatility to play infield, but most teams will utilize him as a center fielder. With Jackie Bradley Jr. struggling offensively, if the Red Sox do sign Castillo, it could spell trouble for Bradley in a Red Sox uniform. The team could shift outfield positions or could use Bradley in a package to lure Miami Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton in an offseason trade. Stanton, Castillo and Cespedes could be an interesting outfield for the Sox.