The Boston Red Sox are hoping another touted Cuban outfielder can help them turn things around next season.
The team signed Rusney Castillo to a seven-year contract Saturday that begins immediately. Several reports indicated the deal is worth $72.5 million US.
"You're trying to build a winning team as quickly as you can and we feel Rusney can be a part of that," Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said during a media conference after last-place Boston lost 7-3 to the Seattle Mariners for its seventh straight defeat.
"There has, obviously, been some other high-profile guys coming out of Cuba," Cherington added. "We've had several scouts see him over the last couple of years."
Castillo will join fellow Cuban star Yoenis Cespedes in Boston's new-look outfield. Trying to improve a weak lineup, the Red Sox obtained Cespedes from Oakland and Allen Craig from St. Louis at the July 31 trade deadline.
The Los Angeles Dodgers have benefited from the strong play of another Cuban outfielder, Yasiel Puig.
"I have actually spoken to Cespedes a little about this and he made me aware that it's the same game we play down in Cuba and success comes with hard work," Castillo said through a translator.
'Major-league games in September'
Cherington said Castillo first needs to obtain a work visa, then he'll go to the team's spring training complex in Fort Myers, Fla., to get back into game shape. The club hopes to have him play in some games in the majors before the end of the season, but he'll likely be in the minors first.
"Our hope is once all these steps are completed that we'll see him in some major-league games in September," Cherington said.
Castillo appeared at Fenway Park about 3 hours before the game wearing Red Sox shorts and a T-shirt. He wore No. 38 for a photo with Cherington, the same number pitcher Curt Schilling wore with the Red Sox.
"It's really a dream come true to have this opportunity to play, especially with the success of the recent Cuban players," Castillo said.
Castillo chatted with Mariners star Robinson Cano in front of the Seattle dugout.
'A shorter version to Puig'
During his pre-game media session, Red Sox manager John Farrell said Castillo was going through the final stages of an exam and the completion of administrative paperwork.
"I talked to him this morning," Farrell said. "He's glad to be here and glad the process has moved along to this point and excited to get started — when that day comes.
"There's still some things to work through. He's, obviously, a strong athlete, a shorter version to Puig.
"What that means performance-wise, we'll see. We're confident in the athleticism and the overall strength."
The 27-year-old Castillo hit .324 in 2011 and .332 in 2012, his two best years in Cuba.