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Tigers lose Rusney Castillo sweepstakes to Red Sox

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Rusney Castillo, the Cuban defector the Tigers hoped would fill their gaping hole in center field, has agreed to a long-term contract with the Red Sox.

Dennis Grombkowski

Late last night it was rumored the race to sign Cuban defector Rusney Castillo was down to just two teams - The Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox.

Today we have a winner in the Castillo sweepstakes.

Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com reports the Red Sox have come to terms on a record agreement with the 27-year-old Castillo, a long-term deal of seven-years, $72.5 million. The contract is the largest ever given to a Cuban defector, topping the six-year, $68 million contract the White Sox gave Jose Abreu, who is now odds on favorite to win AL Rookie of the Year.

Castillo hasn't played a significant amount of baseball in over a year, but the possibility he could help a team down the stretch run made him an inciting option for the Tigers, who have struggled mightily on offense in the second half.

Missing out on the right-hand hitting speedster has to be considered a blow to the Tigers, who hoped Castillo would fill what has become a gaping hole in center field after the trade of Austin Jackson. The Tigers are currently trotting out a patchwork platoon of Rajai Davis, who was supposed to be the team's left fielder gong into the season, and the light-hitting Ezequiel Carrera, who has been a major disappointment after posting huge numbers with Triple-A Toledo.

How the Tigers plan on filling the center field position in 2015 is a question I'm not even sure the organization knows at this point.

The only center fielder who is believed to be a true prospect for Detroit is their 2014 first round draft pick, Derek Hill. Drafted out of high school, the right-hand hitting 18-year-old outfielder is several years away from the big leagues.

The free agent market for center fielders is remarkably thin. If the Washington Nationals decline a $9 million team option, Denard Span would be the top available center fielder on the market this off-season. After Span, the drop off is huge, leaving the Tigers picking from the likes of Colby Rasmus and Grady Sizemore.