“Barry Larkin with power.”
That was the immediate scouting report that was given on the Cubs’ latest top prospect, shortstop Addison Russell. The Cubs acquired Russell as the centerpiece in a trade on Friday night that sent starting pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the Oakland Athletics.
Russell, arguably, becomes the Cubs’ best overall prospect.
That statement would seem unlikely considering the praise that Cubs’ third base prospect Kris Bryant has received this season but scouts across Major League baseball consider Russell to be a franchise-altering prospect. Though, the same sentiment has been shared about Bryant and shortstop prospect Javier Baez.
Ah, yes, Baez.
Some fans were up in arms on Friday night upon reading that the Cubs acquired Russell. Russell being a top-flight shortstop prospect thus giving the Cubs three highly-touted shortstops once you figure in Baez and Starlin Castro.
Barring a position change for one of the three, the Cubs have an interesting problem on their hands.
Though, this is a welcomed problem.
The problem is where to play Baez and Russell once they join Castro on the Major League team.
The likely scenario is that Baez and Castro will change positions. Russell, of the three, is considered to be the best defensive shortstop. Meaning Castro could move to second base with Baez shifting to third base. Such a scenario would see Bryant be moved to the outfield.
But, there is another reason why the Cubs may have acquired Russell on Friday night.
The Cubs could be dangling one of the three talented shortstops for a possible trade.
With Baez and Russell likely being valued over Castro in the Cubs’ organization, do not put it past the front office to trade Castro.
The Cubs’ front office has made excellent work out of cashing in on player’s when their trade value is at a high-point. That strategy is what brought starting pitcher Jake Arrieta and reliever Pedro Strop to the organization last season and is how Russell was acquired on Friday.
After a disappointing 2013 season, Castro’s trade value has increased with an impressive start to the 2014 season.
Castro is hitting .290/.335/.472 this season with a wOBA of .351 and a 121 wRC+. Castro is also on a pace to have a career high in home runs this season as the shortstop already has 11 this season. That is why it should be no surprise that Castro’s ISO of .182 this season is higher than it’s been at any other point in his career.
The Cubs’ front office could cash in on Castro and trade the shortstop for a top pitching prospect that they have been coveting.
Though, it’s not out of the question that the Cubs could keep Castro, Russell, and Baez and find a way to make it work on the Major League roster.
No matter what scenario is casted, the Cubs’ organization improved immensely on Friday night.