Why the obsession with trading Starlin Castro?


With the New York Mets in town, the rumor mill has produced another hypothetical trade scenario around Chicago Cubs All-Star shortstop Starlin Castro. My question is: Why?

A recurring story since the Chicago Cubs traded for prized shortstop Addison Russell last summer has been the trade winds surrounding current shortstop, Starlin Castro.

ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers reported that trade discussions around Castro between the Chicago Cubs and New York Mets had progressed significantly and that a deal was imminent. Rogers writes:

“With the New York Mets in town this week, already the talk of a possible Cubs/Mets deal has picked up again. The reasoning is simple: The Cubs have young hitting while the Mets have young pitching – and each has a need for each other.”

Cubs GM Jed Hoyer had this to say:

“We’ve had conversations with them. We haven’t made a deal yet, but there have been matches that made sense and I’m sure we’ll talk to them in the future.”

While that’s all fine and dandy, a deal involving Castro doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. One very big and important reason? Health.

One of the Mets’ best prospects, Zack Wheeler, is out for the year undergoing Tommy John surgery. Their ace, Matt Harvey, has already undergone Tommy John surgery in the past. Unfortunately, elbow ligaments can be recurring problems. Castro hasn’t had any injury problems in his career, and he’s an everyday guy playing the toughest position on the infield.

The Mets also have promising pitchers Jacob DeGrom and Noah Syndergaard, but is that enough of a coup to offset losing Castro?

More importantly, what’s the rush to get rid of him?

What Castro has achieved in Chicago already (he’s only 25 years old and younger than Harvey) is astounding. He’s a three-time All Star and a terrific hitter at a position where offense is usually at a premium. He’s also a very flashy defensive player, and while he has admitted to lapses in focus on routine plays, he has improved tremendously since last season.

What’s more, the Cubs signed him to a long-term extension a couple years ago that actually is very club-friendly. He hasn’t even entered his prime playing years yet, and is still on the upswing on both offense and defense.

I agree that the Cubs need pitching, but they have one of the game’s best young players who is an established All Star. If they’re dead set on Russell being the shortstop of the future, then move Castro to third base where his defense will automatically improve, and move Kris Bryant to the outfield. After all, he has already started playing some left field this season and is by far a more long-term solution than Chris Coghlan.

The Cubs are sure to be in the market for one or more of the prime free agent pitchers next offseason. With names like David Price, Jordan Zimmerman and Jeff Samardzija set sign anywhere, and the Cubs opening up major revenue streams with their large video boards and improved advertising placements, they can afford to address some of their pitching deficiencies there.

Though the Cubs aren’t rich in young pitching prospects for the future, they’re better off with a guy like Castro. I’d much rather my building blocks give me value every day instead of every five days. In other words, I’d take Mike Trout over Clayton Kershaw every day of the week.

Theo Epstein’s model in Boston was about collecting as many position players with great hitting ability for the club’s foundation. The result? The Red Sox won three World Series rings in the span of a decade.

Epstein was hired to bring that model to Chicago and has started laying a foundation brimming with talent by acquiring guys like Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, and Addison Russell. Kyle Schwarber is waiting in the wings.

All this in addition to what the Cubs already had as a set piece in their offense – Starlin Castro. So far, the results of Epstein and Hoyer’s efforts seem to be pretty good. It’s only going to get better. Why ruin a good, soon to be great, thing?

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May 6, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; Chicago Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro (13) hits a one run single off of St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Lance Lynn (not pictured) during the first inning at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

May 11, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro (13) celebrates after turning a double play to end the game against the New York Mets at Wrigley Field. The Cubs won 3-4. Mandatory Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports