Red Sox

MLB Rumors: Are Red Sox out on Will Smith despite heavy recent interest?

MLB Rumors: Are Red Sox out on Will Smith despite heavy recent interest?

The Boston Red Sox reportedly have interest in a number of relievers ahead of the MLB trade deadline.

But are they willing to pay the cost of doing business?

That issue apparently cropped up in Boston's recruit of San Francisco Giants reliever Will Smith, according to the Boston Sports Journal's Sean McAdam, who shared this reporting Wednesday:

The Red Sox indeed have sent scouts to several Giants games in recent weeks, and Smith -- a left-handed closer enjoying an All-Star season -- would address their desperate need for a ninth-inning option.

But no deal has materialized with hours to go before the deadline, seemingly because San Francisco's asking price for Smith is too high.

McAdam's insight would corroborate recent reports suggesting the Red Sox are focusing on "lesser" bullpen arms instead of high profile relievers like New York Mets closer Edwin Diaz.

Boston already has a thin farm system, and it appears president of baseball Dave Dombrowski is wary of depleting it further. That means we may see the Sox take a cautious approach into the deadline unless they can negotiate a better price for Smith.

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Remember Rusney Castillo? He'll make $14 million in Triple-A, then finally become a free agent

Remember Rusney Castillo? He'll make $14 million in Triple-A, then finally become a free agent

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- On an unseasonably cool Florida afternoon, Red Sox regulars scattered like mice before the start of the annual spring training exhibition vs. Northeastern.

None of them were going to play, and therefore, none had to stay, the promise of a rare afternoon off beckoning like an oasis.

So in their place, a parade of prospects, minor leaguers, and fringe performers comprised the starting nine. Some -- such as center fielder Jarren Duran -- may have a future in Boston. Others -- such as third baseman Chad De La Guerra or left fielder John Andreoli -- are household names only in their own households.

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But there, batting cleanup and playing right field, was a man with more name recognition than all of them combined, finishing his Red Sox career in a peculiar purgatory, population: one.

When the Red Sox signed Rusney Castillo to a seven-year, $72.5 million contract in 2014, he represented not only hope for the future, but redemption for the failure to sign Cuban countryman Jose Abreu a year earlier. He was supposed to hit for power, steal bases, and make plays across the outfield. The Red Sox signed him not because he possessed any particular overwhelming skill, but for his across-the-board stability.

Six years later, Castillo is cashing his final Red Sox checks, having fulfilled virtually none of that promise. He'll make $14 million this season, but he hasn't appeared in a major-league game since 2016, and he hasn't recorded a hit since his first contest of that season, when he went 2-for-4 as an April fill-in.

Despite spending more on payroll over the prior three seasons than anyone, the Red Sox simply couldn't justify Castillo's place in the majors.

Because he's not a member of the 40-man roster, his salary doesn't count for luxury tax purposes. So he has stayed in the minors, hitting better than .300 in two of the past three seasons at Triple-A Pawtucket, sharing a clubhouse with major leaguers only in spring training.

Once the Grapefruit League schedule ends, Castillo packs his cars -- including a vintage McLaren and Lamborghini -- and heads north to Pawtucket, where he plays every day with little hope of reaching Boston, no matter how much he produces.

Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke feels for the 32-year-old, who will actually become a free agent this fall, when he'll hit the market with over $70 million in earnings and only one-tenth of one season of service time.

"He's going to be a free agent at the end of the year, so I think this is a big year for him," Roenicke said. "Go out and do what you've been doing, which has been really good in Triple-A, and hopefully you find yourself in the big leagues, and not to say it won't happen this year, but if it doesn't, shoot, go out and be the same guy and maybe play a few more years. I don't know him that well, but I know they've had really good things to say about him. He's been in a tough spot, and he keeps doing a nice job for us."


David Ortiz, Derek Jeter already recognize greatness in Red Sox' Rafael Devers

David Ortiz, Derek Jeter already recognize greatness in Red Sox' Rafael Devers

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Rafael Devers understands most questions in English before they're translated into Spanish by Red Sox communications manager Bryan Almonte.

But on Friday morning at JetBlue Park, he waited to hear a question about David Ortiz in his native tongue before breaking into a broad smile. A day earlier, Ortiz had said he never leaves the room when Devers bats, which means one of the greatest hitters in Red Sox history considers the 23-year-old appointment viewing.

Devers looked positively giddy at the concept.

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"It's great to hear that, especially from a legend like David Ortiz," Devers said, via Almonte. "He's someone I watched growing up and obviously he's someone I hold in high regard. Knowing that he's watching me, I just try to pick his brain as much as I can. I know the knowledge that he has and passes down to me is very important to my growth."

As the Red Sox ponder a future without Mookie Betts, they take some solace in the knowledge that Devers has not even approached his ceiling, even after a breakout 2019 that saw him lead the league in doubles (54) and total bases (359).

He has certainly caught the eye of Ortiz, the franchise icon who's in camp as an instructor. It turns out he's not the only baseball legend impressed with the young slugger, who officially checked in to camp on Friday after taking a couple of extra days with his newborn daughter in the Dominican Republic.

"True story, his first year they went to play the Marlins," Ortiz said. "I was sitting right next to Derek Jeter. And I asked Derek, 'Hey, which one is the player in the lineup that scares you the most?' And he said, 'Devers.' His first year. And I totally agreed with him because he was fearless. That's when you know that a hitter is going to be dangerous. So, what he did last year, it was not surprising to be honest with you. I saw that coming."

Told jokingly that Devers was only 14 years old last year, Ortiz laughed.

"That's what makes it even crazier," he marveled, "a guy that young figuring things out that quick."

The story of Devers' 2019 is well known. He didn't drive in a run until Game 13 despite opening the season batting third, he didn't homer until May 3, and he finished April on pace for more than 40 errors.

But once he flipped the switch, he couldn't be stopped. He ended up hitting .311 with 32 homers and 115 RBI, and his move to the 2-hole in the lineup led to a team-wide offensive explosion. For his efforts, he finished 12th in the MVP voting and earned one diehard fan who needs no introduction.

"I don't need him to do more than what he did last year," Ortiz said. "His numbers last year were sick. Last year was my first year really watching a lot of games, to be honest with you. I was sitting at home, so of course, I'm going to be watching games more than ever. It seems like every day that guy was doing some damage. Every day. Now I understand why I have people coming to me and telling me, 'Bro, I couldn't wait for you to come to hit. I was always expecting something out of you. Your at-bats were good enough even if you got yourself out.'

"I have the same feeling about him. I couldn't wait for him to come to hit. Because if he gets himself out, he was fighting. He was hitting a rocket at somebody. It was a pitcher making a nasty pitch on him. It was not a giveaway at-bat at all. I saw more than 250 at-bats coming out of him and bro I'm telling you, this guy is on another level."

Devers practically blushes at Ortiz's praise, but says what he has really learned from the future Hall of Famer is the value of consistency and hard work.

"I want to improve on everything," Devers said. "I don't feel like I'm a finished product yet. I want to improve on offense, defense, whatever it is that I can work on every single day because I feel like we always need to keep improving."

The pressure on Devers to replace Betts will be immense, but he's not sweating it, and that's a good thing, as far as Ortiz is concerned.

"Devers, all he has to do from now on is have the same mentality," Ortiz said. "He had a phenomenal year last year, phenomenal. I can't ask him for more than that."