Bust (transitive verb): to ruin financially <the game of cheaters, which has busted more men than blackjack — Arthur Mayse>
Rusney Castillo has once again reported to spring training with the Boston Red Sox, ostensibly ready to “compete” for another chance in the big leagues. He enters the fourth season of a seven-year contract that pays him $72.5M. This year, he will take home $11,271,428 – to whatever lodging he has acquired since becoming a permanent resident of Pawtucket, Rhode Island. And Castillo has as much chance of making the Boston’s Opening Day roster as I do, mostly because he is the definition of financial ruin.
When the topic of the worst contracts in baseball history comes up, there’s a pretty reliable list of names: Mike Hampton. Mo Vaughn. Jason Bay. Maybe Ryan Howard. But compared to Rusney Castillo, those prime examples of profligacy pale in comparison. They were bad. They were overpaid, for a long time. Yet they were big-league players and provided their “services” to a major league team, as bad as those services may have been. Rusney Castillo hasn’t sniffed major league air for more than a couple of coffee since 2015 and he likely never will again.
Assuming he never dons a Boston uniform again, Castillo provided 337 plate appearances over three seasons (99 total games). He hit .262/.301/.379, with seven homers, 35 runs batted in, 45 runs scored, and seven stolen bases to go along with 63 strikeouts and 11 GIDP. However, the numbers alone cannot explain just how bad at baseball Rusney Castillo proved to be. This sort-of shows the depths of his depravity, but it is insufficient to fully explain the magnitude of his muckery:
The Red Sox took a gamble on Castillo after the success of other Cuban free agents, and lost badly. But because of John Henry’s largess – and a quirk of the CBA – Castillo is not affecting the big-league club. His salary has been excised from the luxury tax calculations – having been outrighted to AAA Pawtucket, Castillo’s bloated contract does not factor into the Red Sox payroll calculations. Only if he were to be recalled to Boston – and added to the 40-man roster – would his salary affect the team.
The Red Sox could, theoretically, bring Castillo back into the fold and use him – but it would cost them dearly. Already close to the threshold, re-adding Castillo to the mix would eliminate any remaining cap space the Sox have, as well as complicating (read: adding to) future seasons’ payroll. His contract does not ruin the Red Sox financially – but it should. Being a big market behemoth has its advantages, and this is one of them. Almost any other club would be hamstrung by the failure of Castillo, but the Red Sox can simply pay him off to play in Pawtucket without really suffering any consequence.
Basically, it would take an on-field collision between Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Andrew Benintendi, with Chris Young impaling himself on the Pesky Pole, for Castillo to make it back to Boston. A strong winter league season in Puerto Rico – where the Craptastic Cuban helped his team to a league title – and his arrival in Fort Myers (can’t get paid if you don’t show up!) have sparked the usual “Castillo in 2017” stories – but don’t be fooled. Even he hits 1.000 this spring with 42 home runs, he’s not making the team. It makes no financial sense.
And that’s why Rusney Castillo is the worst baseball contract of all time. Halfway through his disastrous deal, he couldn’t get back to the big leagues even if a meteor hit Jet Blue Park’s outfield and incapacitated every other outfielder on the roster. Castillo has proven himself to be not worthy of a major league roster spot and his contract is so prohibitive that he can’t be recalled under any circumstances.
Mo Vaughn signed a six-year $80M contract with the Angels and, in the second year of that deal, fell down the dugout stairs while chasing a foul pop up. However, before the injury he played 300 games for Anaheim, racking up 1,304 plate appearances, 69 home runs, and 308 strikeouts (along with his .276/.362/.503 batting line). Mike Hampton signed an eight-year $121M contract with Colorado, and he too spent just two years with the club who handed him all that cash. He started 62 games and logged 381 ⅔ innings for the Rockies, posting a 5.75 ERA. Jason Bay recorded 288 games, 1,125 plate appearances, and 26 home runs with the New York Mets in three injury-plagued seasons while earning $66M over four years. Vaughn, Hampton, and Bay anchor any worst-contract-in-baseball-history lists – yet all posted far superior statistics than did Castillo in the totality of his big league career.
In the end, Rusney Castillo will have been paid more than $10M for each major league home run. His ineptness prevented him from even breaking 100 career games played: he was literally so bad that the Red Sox are paying him – and will keep paying him for three more years – to not be in Boston. At some point soon, another player will sign a huge deal and then get hurt or succumb to ineffectiveness – but none will ever play less in the major leagues, or earn so much per homer, as Rusney. Never before, and never again, shall a player earn so much for so little production in the big leagues.