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Red Sox place Rusney Castillo on outright waivers

Rusney Castillo has just eight at-bats with the Red Sox this season.John Tlumacki/Globe staff/file 2016

When Rusney Castillo was optioned to Triple A Pawtucket not even a week into the season, the question was whether the 28-year-old outfielder — whom the Red Sox signed to a seven-year, $72.5 million deal just two years ago — was an expensive bust.

That question may now have an answer.

After sending Castillo to Pawtucket for the third time this season Saturday, the Sox placed him on outright waivers, a major league source confirmed to the Globe. The Sox did not comment.

Since he was placed on outright waivers Saturday, Castillo would clear Monday. He’s still owed $32.5 million over the next three seasons, with a $13.5 million option after 2019. Because of that price tag, Castillo is likely to go unclaimed and be outrighted to Pawtucket. He will no longer be on the Red Sox’ 40-man roster.

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Castillo’s contract was record-setting for an amateur international player, surpassing the $68 million deal that Jose Abreu signed with the White Sox in 2013. The Sox outbid the Tigers, Phillies, Giants, and Mariners for Castillo’s services, hoping that he would make the kind of immediate impact made by fellow Cubans Abreu, Yoenis Cespedes, and Yasiel Puig, who became All-Stars after coming to the majors.

But those plans never panned out for Castillo.

Castillo has played in just 99 big league games, hitting .262 with a .679 OPS.

After playing 80 games last season, he has been all but forgotten this year, playing in just nine games with only eight plate appearances.

Coming into spring training, left field was Castillo’s job to lose. But he hit .183 with nine strikeouts in 60 at-bats, and the Opening Day job went to Brock Holt while Castillo became the team’s fifth outfielder.

He played in just one game the first week of the season before being sent down to Pawtucket.

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For two months, Castillo was essentially in purgatory with the PawSox, playing 38 games and hitting .245 with a homer, 13 RBIs, and 23 strikeouts.

He was called up May 31, when Jackie Bradley Jr. went on paternity leave, and appeared as a pinch runner in a June loss to the Orioles. He was sent back to Pawtucket three days later, then found himself back in Boston two days after that, when Blake Swihart went on the disabled list.

Cano calls for an Ortiz encore

Coming from the Dominican Republic, Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano has always viewed Sox slugger David Ortiz as a big brother.

With Ortiz putting together one of the best years of his career, Cano said he could understand the pull from fans, teammates, and peers around the league for Ortiz to play one more season, even though he said this will be his swan song.

“If I was him, I let the fans and the owner and the organization make that happen,” Cano said. “Remember he’s getting all those gifts from every team, every place he goes, and I mean, the fans got to make that happen — if I was him.”

Ortiz went 1 for 3 in Sunday’s 2-1 win. He’s hitting .342 with 18 homers and 59 RBIs.

He has reached base in 35 straight games against the Mariners, the longest active streak vs. the franchise and Ortiz’s longest career streak against any team.

His homer in Friday’s series opener was the 521st of his career, tying Ted Williams, Willie McCovey, and Frank Thomas for 19th on the all-time list.

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Cano said the numbers Ortiz are putting up this season aren’t surprising.

“This game, the more you play, the more you learn,” he said. “He’s accomplished a lot of things in his career, so I’m not surprised because when you get older, you learn how to hit, you learn how to handle situations. So he’s a guy, he knows how to handle this field.”

From a player’s perspective, though, Cano said he understands wanting to go out at the top of your game.

“Sometimes it’s also good as a player, you want to retire good, having a great year, because what happens if he comes back next year and he’s not the same guy,” Cano said. “But like I said, if the fans make that happen and the team owner, that’s different. They know, people know that the team wants him. But also, you have to understand, the way you want to retire is the way he’s swinging right now. But he’s a guy that, for sure, we’re going to miss in baseball.

Moncada will be moving up

With High A Salem having completed its first half of the season, the Red Sox have promoted second baseman Yoan Moncada to Double A before Portland opens a homestand Tuesday.

For more on Moncada’s promotion, click here.

Holt showing improvement

Holt, who is still recovering from a mild concussion he sustained last month, showed strong signs of improvement over the past three days, responding well to workouts at an increased intensity level.

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Holt went through another set of exams with concussion specialist Michael Collins before Sunday’s game, and the progress left manager John Farrell hopeful that the outfielder could begin a rehab assignment within the week.

“He had a very good re-exam here today,” Farrell said. “We’ve still got some protocol to go through to get him on a rehab assignment, but hopefully in the coming days that would begin.”


Alex Speier of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Julian Benbow can be reached at jbenbow@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @julianbenbow.