If you’ve been following the Yankees’ involvement in the Rusney Castillo sweepstakes, this news will come as a bit of a surprise. According to Pete Caldera, the Yanks have “ended any pursuit” of the 27-year-old Cuban free agent, to whom they’ve been strongly linked since he became available and hosted for a private workout a week or 2 ago.
Last I knew, the Yankees were planning to make a big offer to Castillo. They reportedly liked what they saw from him in his workouts and fancied him a good option as a second baseman. While Caldera’s report gives no explanation for the change in stance, there are a few factors to consider. Castillo is having visa problems, which could prevent him from being available to play this season, and there are a couple other big-money teams in the running for his services. If the Yanks have information on the type of salary he could be in line for, they could have decided that his talent level wasn’t worth the price and resulting luxury tax hit.
It’s strange to see them back out like this so soon after looking and sounding like one of the favorite to sign him, but we have to trust that the Yankees know what they’re doing. They scouted Castillo, they’ve seen him in person a few times, and they probably have their own idea of what type of player he’s capable of being at the Major League level. If that perceived ceiling isn’t worth the dollars it’s going to take to sign him, I have no problem with them passing. People might not like it because they’ll think back to the Yanks passing on the likes of Cespedes, Soler, and Abreu, but passing on other players is no reason to sign the next one. The last time they went with that strategy on the international FA market, they ended up with Kei Igawa.