Rusney Castillo decision imminent

BOSTON -- The Boston Red Sox are anxiously awaiting word on whether they will be successful in their bid to land Cuban defector Rusney Castillo, who is expected to declare his intentions any day now.

The Red Sox like the 27-year-old Castillo a lot, multiple club sources said on Sunday, though in their view, his tools, especially his power and overall hitting ability, are not as immediately evident as they were with Cuban strongman Jose Abreu, who is having a monster rookie season with the Chicago White Sox.

Chicago's six-year, $66 million bid for Abreu trumped those of their rivals, including the Red Sox.

The Red Sox project the 5-foot-9, 205-pound Castillo, who is regarded as having plus speed and an average arm, as a center fielder/right fielder, whose addition could strengthen an outfield which until just a couple of weeks ago was viewed as the team's weakest link offensively.

But since then, the Sox have acquired Yoenis Cespedes and Allen Craig in trades, with Cespedes a potential candidate to move to center field next season, flanked by Craig and Shane Victorino, who recently underwent back surgery and said he expects to be healthy by the start of spring training, if not sooner.

Throw gifted defender Jackie Bradley Jr. and apprentice outfielder Mookie Betts into the mix, along with hot-hitting holdover Daniel Nava, and even without the addition of Castillo the Sox will have some decisions to make.

And having so many outfielders on the roster will only fuel speculation that the Red Sox will mount a huge effort this winter to trade for Miami outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, the gifted slugger whom the Marlins so far have been unwilling to deal but whose position could change this winter if it becomes apparent they will not sign him to a long-term deal.

The Red Sox, with a farm system teeming with prospects as well as big league outfielders under their control, could assemble a cost-controlled package that not only would help Miami's immediate void in the outfield if it dealt Stanton, but would also be able to entice the Marlins with either pitching or positional prospects.

But even taking Stanton out of a future equation, the Red Sox view Castillo as a player who could make an immediate impact. Castillo, at a workout held in Miami on July 26 that reportedly was attended by 28 of 30 major league clubs, told reporters his preferred position was center field.

He has since held private workouts for several clubs, including the Red Sox, who have sent multiple talent evaluators to watch him play. The Tigers, Yankees, Cubs and Phillies have all been mentioned as major bidders for Castillo's services.

Castillo is represented by Jay Z's Roc Nation Sports, the same agency that negotiated a 10-year, $240 million contract for free-agent second baseman Robinson Cano, who left the Yankees to sign with the Mariners.

The Sox have an offer in on Castillo; the bidding is not expected to go as high as it did for Abreu -- "no reason that it should," one talent evaluator said -- but given the deep pockets of the bidders, it could approach the neighborhood of the seven-year, $42 million deal the Dodgers gave outfielder Yasiel Puig, who is four years younger than Castillo.