Sandoval Castillo

Potential Trade Partners for Pablo Sandoval and Rusney Castillo

Let’s get this out of the way: it’s going to be incredibly difficult for the Red Sox to trade either Pablo Sandoval or Rusney Castillo.

Recently, the Red Sox put Sandoval on the disabled list with a totally real and legit injury. They also demoted Castillo to Triple-A, which was easy to see coming once the team signed Chris Young this offseason. The results? $129.4 million in what basically amounts to dead money. At least Hanley Ramirez has looked good.

All of this leads to the obvious question: can the Red Sox get out from one or both of these contracts via trade?

Sandoval is still owed $78 million over this season and the next three, plus a $5 million buyout for 2020. He is out of shape, is coming off a horrendous season, may be ill-suited to play in hyper-focused markets and comes with more red flags than a … red flag store. He’s 29 years old, might not be able to play third anymore and is expensive.

Castillo is still owned $51.4 over this season and the next four, though he can opt out after 2019. He hasn’t shown an ability to hit MLB pitching, makes routine mental mistakes and isn’t the baserunner we thought he was. There’s a chance he never hits righties, and while he’s still fairly new to stateside ball, that excuse becomes less palatable with every passing month.

To suggest any contract in baseball is immovable is silly, and ignores even recent MLB history.

The Red Sox are not going to get prospects for Sandoval or Castillo. They are not going to get a good player for Sandoval or Castillo. They are not going to get total salary relief for Sandoval or Castillo. Ned Colletti isn’t walking through that door.

However, to suggest any contract in baseball is immovable is silly and ignores even recent history. Vernon Wells was traded. Carl Crawford was traded. Josh Hamilton was traded. Melvin Upton was traded. Ryan Howard was … ok, maybe he’s the exception. But generally, horrible contracts can be moved. They just usually require a team to

a) take on an equally horrible contract in return
b) eat a huge portion of the money involved
c) use prospects/good players to offset costs

The Red Sox aren’t in a position to go with Option C, but A and B are at least viable.

With this in mind, let’s take a quick and dirty look at what MLB teams might have even the slightest interest in acquiring Sandoval (who isn’t that far removed from being good) or Castillo (who might possess untapped potential and who isn’t that expensive). We’re not going to get into hyper-specifics or give Bad MLB ammunition. We’re just going to look at what’s even remotely reasonable if we squint.


Teams We Can Rule Out Immediately


Right off the bat, we can kill 15 teams. Yes, there’s no reason to think half the entire league would want anything to do with either of these players (I’m throwing you some side-eye, Ben Cherington). To wit:

Rebuilding teams: Phillies, Brewers, Reds, Braves, Rockies, Twins

Good teams set at 3B and OF: Cubs, Blue Jays, Royals, Tigers, Nationals, Rangers

Teams hurting for money: Pirates, Rays, Mets

Seriously, there is no earthly reason for any of these teams to acquire Castillo or Sandoval.

Let’s move on to the rare teams that don’t need Castillo, but might — probably don’t, but might — have the slightest bit of interest in just Sandoval.


Teams That Could Possibly Use Sandoval


HOUSTON ASTROS: The Astros have Luis Valbuena at third base. He’s not that good. Perhaps if the Red Sox ate, like, 75% of Sandoval’s money, the Astros would take him and send back a Double-A reliever. Maybe. Ryan Hanigan could be a fit here, too.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS: The Dodgers have Justin Turner at third base. He’s pretty good, but not always healthy and the depth behind him is … Chase Utley. If Turner gets hurt, perhaps they’d have some interest in Sandoval at a dramatically reduced cost. Maybe they’ll send back one of their 15,242 no. 5/6 starters or Alex Guerrero or something.

MIAMI MARLINS: The Marlins have Martin Prado at third base. He’s pretty meh, but could be used to fill in other spots should an injury occur. The Marlins are pretty weird and might want to move, like, Wei-Yin Chen by June or something. It’s at least worth a call.

That’s … it. Not very promising, but remotely interesting enough for Dombrowski to see if he can get creative.

Let’s move on to a more realistic list: teams who might want to take a flier on Castillo.


Teams That Could Possibly Use Castillo


ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS: They lost A.J. Pollock and they make weird trades all the time. It doesn’t sound like they have any money, but maybe they’ll send an okay-ish piece back if the Sox eat all of Rusney’s contract. They’re sort of like the Marlins; you can’t rule anything out here. The D-Backs are equally likely to laugh in your face or give away Braden Shipley.

BALTIMORE ORIOLES: This is unlikely due to the division, but the O’s could definitely use outfield help, especially if Adam Jones is going to suffer through injuries again. Maybe we can get Joe Gunkel back.

CHICAGO WHITE SOX: They sort of covered themselves by signing Austin Jackson, but they’re an injury away from being very thin in the outfield. Also, Avisail Garcia might not be good. They’re clearly going for it right now, so Rusney might interest them. Ryan Hanigan could be a fit here, too.

NEW YORK YANKEES: Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner average 54,655 missed games per season. Aaron Hicks helps, but Castillo would be a reasonable backup option with some upside. Yeah I know, this won’t happen.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS: I know everyone is in love with Randal Grichuk, but the Cardinals are pretty thin in the outfield. The problems here are two-fold; most of the Cards’ outfield already bats right-handed, and Castillo probably isn’t gritty enough to be a Cardinal.

SEATTLE MARINERS: They already gambled on a failing Cuban center fielder when they traded for Leonys Martin, but Safeco is huge and Seth Smith still roams it on occasion. Add in the injury/illness histories of Nori Aoki and Franklin Gutierrez and it’s easy to see how Castillo could potentially tempt them. Ryan Hanigan could be a fit here, too.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS: Hunter Pence and Denard Span are good, but they’re far from injury-proof. Angel Pagan is so-so/always hurt and the Giants’ next option is … Gregor Blanco. The Giants are in win-now mode. It’s a stretch, but it’s not crazy.

If you haven’t caught on yet, I think Castillo is a much more attractive (or at least realistic) trade chip than Sandoval. At the same time, the Red Sox are much less motivated to move Castillo since they can just park him in the minors.

Finally, I’ve identified four teams that maybe — probably not, but maybe — would have interest in both Sandoval and Castillo. Hold on to your butts.


Teams That Could Possibly Use Sandoval *and* Castillo


SAN DIEGO PADRES: Here’s the obvious candidate. The Padres and Red Sox are frequent trade partners, the Padres have nothing at third base and they can always use more good defensive outfielders. James Shields is owed a ton of money, and while he’d probably give up 435 homers in Fenway, he’d be a reasonable mid-to-back-end starter for Boston. The Red Sox would have to eat some money here, but there’s a definite match if San Diego thinks Sandoval can at least fake it at third base.

LOS ANGELES ANGELS: It would be pretty easy for the Angels to put Sandoval at third, move Yunel Escobar to second and let Castillo play left field. In fact, this is probably the best match that makes some sense to me. There are no shortage of bad contracts for the Red Sox to take back here, including C.J. Wilson and (probably not) Jered Weaver. Ryan Hanigan could be a fit here, too.

CLEVELAND INDIANS: Money is the big issue — it’s hard to see Cleveland taking on much payroll — but this is a team with a very, very thin outfield and not much to speak of at third base. They might be closer to the “only interested in Rusney” camp, but I don’t think you can rule out an interest in a very cheap Sandoval. This would probably require the Red Sox taking a massive financial L. But remember; Sandoval and (to a certain extent) Castillo are already massive financial Ls.

OAKLAND ATHLETICS: Who the hell knows what Billy Beane is thinking? This is very, very unlikely, but again, if the Red Sox take on a huge portion of the money owed or throw in a prospect (note: please don’t do this), it’s possible they could make a deal and get back, like, I don’t know, Coco Crisp? Jed Lowrie? Billy Butler (woof)? Ryan Madson in June? Just thinking out loud.

So there you have it. I think the most likely option is that the Red Sox end up DFAing or giving away Sandoval in a month or two while retaining Castillo as injury insurance. But if there’s any shot of the Sox pulling off a miracle deal, the Padres and Angels look like the most likely dancing partners.

I hope you were planning on drinking tonight.

Photo by Kim Klement/USA Today Sports Images

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4 comments on “Potential Trade Partners for Pablo Sandoval and Rusney Castillo”


I have the same teams on my list. The only thing I’d like to point out is that LAA’ doesn’t have the money either, they have hit the top of their salary range, so the Sox would have to pay most of said players salaries in that trade too.

Walt in Maryland

For a lot of reasons, I think the Red Sox “need” to move Sandoval more than they need to move Castillo. Since Castillo has minor-league options, Boston can stash him at Pawtucket, like they did with Allen Craig.

Castillo’s problems are mainly connected to his apparent inability to hit big-league pitching. He can still provide value in the field and on the bases, albeit nothing close to what he’s being paid.

But Sandoval can’t hit, field or run at this point, and he can’t be demoted. He’s literally a dead weight on the Boston roster.


Sandoval / Espinoza / Kopec / Basabe for Votto:

Votto is 16:$20M, 17:$22M, 18-23:$25M annually, 24:$20M club option ($7M buyout)

Sandoval is 16-17:$17M/year. 18-19:$18M/year. 20:$17M club option ($5M buyout)

Reds save $ and pick up prospects


Are Castillo and Sandoval both on Cherington? Before Dombrowski it seemed – at least if you listen to the Boston sports media – that is was never clear who drove what roster decision?

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