BOSTON -- The Boston Red Sox have come to terms on a seven-year, $72.5 million deal for Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo, a team source said Friday.
The contract is a record number in total dollars paid for a free-agent amateur. Castillo was en route to Boston on Friday, according to ESPN's Pedro Gomez, and was expected to undergo a physical on Saturday.
Red Sox manager John Farrell has seen and read the scouting reports on the 27-year-old outfielder.
"Above-average speed. Can play center field or right field. What kind of power? What kind of average? Obviously our scouts liked him enough, if the reports are true, that's a significant investment. It's an exciting, athletic player by all accounts," Farrell said.
Farrell added that he is aware of the reports of the Castillo signing, but there are still administrative things that Castillo must go through before anything is announced officially.
The contract begins this season, the source said, which makes the average annual value of the deal (for luxury-tax purposes) $10.36 million, a tick below the $11.3 million AAV of the six-year, $68 million deal that Cuban slugger Jose Abreu signed with the Chicago White Sox last winter. Castillo's deal runs through the 2020 season.
The Red Sox, who last winter were outbid for Abreu, won what became a furious bidding war for Castillo, 27, whose workout last month in Miami was attended by 28 major league teams. Castillo subsequently conducted private workouts for a number of teams, including the Red Sox, who in the end, according to multiple sources, held off a strong bid from the Detroit Tigers.
In coming to terms with Castillo, whom the Red Sox project as a center or right fielder, Boston has completed a remarkable transformation of an outfield that had ranked as one of the weakest offensively in club history.
The Red Sox executed trades at the deadline for outfielders Yoenis Cespedes (Oakland) and Allen Craig (St. Louis), and with holdovers Daniel Nava and Shane Victorino expected to be ready for spring training after undergoing back surgery, Boston now has an outfield crowded with experienced veterans.
The Red Sox spent much of the season with rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. playing center field and converted two other rookie infielders, Brock Holt and Mookie Betts, into outfielders. Bradley, a superb defender who hit just .216, was sent down to the minors this week, with Betts recalled to take his place. Holt, who has played every position in the infield and outfield, has served as the team's leadoff hitter since mid-May.
The flurry of activity, which cost the Red Sox pitchers Jon Lester and John Lackey in the Cespedes and Craig deals, comes less than two years after the Red Sox hit the reset button in spectacular fashion, unloading stars Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett in an August deal to the Los Angeles Dodgers that freed up nearly $260 million in salary and netted the Red Sox two promising young pitchers in Rubby De La Rosa, who is currently in the Red Sox's rotation, and Allen Webster, who is in Triple-A Pawtucket and has already had multiple big league call-ups.