The Cubs have three middle infielders for two positions. Addison Russell is planted at shortstop so that leaves Starlin Castro and Javier Baez for 2nd base. There are other possible scenarios. Baez or Castro could move to centerfield if the Cubs don’t re-sign Dexter Fowler or add another CF via free agency or trade. Neither have played there, but there’s probably not any reason that they couldn’t.
Castro is the more proven player of the two. I have my concerns about both of them. Castro has not been very good over the last 3 years. Baez, even when he somewhat turned it around in limited action in 2015, still was average to slightly below average at the plate. Overall, he’s had a 65 wRC+ in his career. Baez is probably the better fielder and is much cheaper.
Steamer projects 1.6 fWAR from each player in 2016, but it has Baez with more than 260 fewer plate appearances. I believe Steamer is being way too optimistic, but the projections are what they are. At this point in their careers, I’m not sure anyone would argue that Baez has greater potential. I’d also like to think that no one would argue that Castro, despite his erratic performance, is more likely to give you an average performance than Baez.
Trading Castro makes sense. They probably won’t lose much, if anything, in terms of value by going with Baez and they’d save money. Castro is set to earn $7 million in 2016 and $37 million overall from 2016-2019. There’s also a 2020 team option for $16 million or a $1 million buyout so it’s actually $38 million guaranteed. Knocking off $7 million from the books in 2016 isn’t a huge chunk of money, but it might be able to help the Cubs land a top-tiered free agent this offseason. It might be one of the only ways that can happen.
The Cubs have shown interest in trading Castro in the past and I think we should expect to see that happen again. Castro’s strong performance over the final two months might also have increased his trade value. He doesn’t make so much money that the Cubs are just going to get rid of him for nothing. They’ll want something in return and they should get it.
We’ll start with the 1.6 win projection from Steamer and go from there. Castro doesn’t turn 26 until March so he’s in his prime right now.
Add in the buyout and the surplus trade value is $18.2 million. To the best of my knowledge, nobody has updated the chart I used to use for this that was from an article by erik manning who put together the chart based on Victor Wang’s THT article.
It would be interesting to see how that’s changed over the years. When I went into this article, I was thinking the Cubs could probably expect a hitter ranked in the top 100, but closer to the bottom of that list. Still a good haul for someone like Castro.
Teams aren’t as willing to part with young players as they were 7/8 years ago when those articles were written. Looking at it again, and factoring in some inflation, I’m thinking the Cubs can probably expect a grade B pitcher with the possibility of a pitcher ranked in the 76-100 range. If the Cubs were to kick in some money in the deal, which kind of defeats one of the purposes of trading him in the first place, they might also get back a low level pitching prospect (probably a relief prospect.
For what it's worth, if Castro were to become a 2.5 win player again, which is entirely possible, he could have upwards of $50 million in surplus value. Even if Castro improves back to what I think we'd all agree he's more than capable of, this could turn out to be a disaster of a trade if the Cubs don't get something really good in return. I think Theo has to consider that when trading him.
Theo and company have worked some pretty good trade magic in the last few years so I think they could come out of this with a bit more than we expect. If you were expecting a top 10 prospect for a player who looked like he was on the fast track to becoming a perennial all-star a few years ago, you’ll be disappointed. That’s the not player Castro turned into though he’s still young and there remains that upside.
I started this article several days ago, but my dog got sick and I couldn't finish it until I wrote a little bit about my dog. I just stared at the screen and couldn't focus. I was able to focus after I wrote something about it. I thought I'd share it here.
My dog Lexi had gotten sick a couple weeks ago and she barely ate that day. She ate a bunch of leaves outside so she could throw up. Later that evening she was fine. Relatively fine. She was to turn 16 in November and had a number of ailments she was being treated for. A less friendly dog owner probably would have given up awhile back, but her quality of life, with my assistance, was still pretty good. She was still having fun. Most of the time.
Then she got sick again a few days after that. Same symptoms. She ate a bunch later in the day and everything was fine. Until a few days later the same thing happened. We added additional meds. This time, antibiotics. It was a last ditch attempt. She was fine for about a week and then she got sick again. She woke up on Wednesday and I knew right as we were going up the stairs. She was nearly 16, almost completely blind and completely deaf and she was still able to climb a flight of stairs multiple times per day. I had to race up behind her to make sure she was safe. She almost always was, but if she stumbled, which happened on rare occasions, she was stuck with nowhere to go. I had to help her.
Life was slowly slipping away from her and I did everything I could to make it last without making her suffer. Once she woke up that day I knew it was time. She was sick again and I called the vet to set up an appointment to put her to sleep. I needed a day to say goodbye. I needed a day to do everything we did on our routine one more time. I needed a last time for all the things we did each day. I cherished everything that we did one last time.
We put her to sleep Thursday morning and life isn’t the same without her. I see her everywhere. If I’m eating dinner, I can see her little ears sticking up over the table as she’s staring at me, hoping I drop something. I see her when a commercial comes on and I look down beside me to check on her. She’s still there. I look out back and I can briefly see her. She’s everywhere I expect to see her, which is almost everywhere. It’s amazing how much my life has been affected by her and I’m confident she felt the same about me. That’s a good feeling to have.
I had almost 16 wonderful years with her and it’s hard to say goodbye. She was terrific in every sense. As a puppy she rated a 75 on the 20-80 scale for speed with 80 potential. She was lightning fast and not even Yadier Molina could have thrown her out. She was a 70 defensively. She could have saved the 2008 Cubs NLDS single-handedly with her defense. She could play all the positions and handled the shift with ease. Her ability to chase down a frisbee was astounding, which isn't an important skill in baseball, but it's pretty awesome so I included it. Her awareness of where everything and everyone was at was unmatched.
At only 35 pounds in her prime, she wasn’t the most powerful dog. She rated as a 50. Average. Nobody is perfect.
What she lacked in power, she made up for in on-base skills. She showed a promising future early on and was rated as a 55, but in her prime she was was an 80. She took full advantage of the tiny strike zone that pitchers had to work with.
Her thick white coat of hair made her a favorite among the sportswriters too. She was the scrappiest, most grittiest of them all.
She had a terrible arm. There’s no other way to put it. Her arm made Jacque Jones look great. 20 as a youth. 25 in her prime. Still, she ran fast enough that she could just run the ball to 1st to get the out. It wasn’t ideal, but Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta have proven it can be done. I’m pretty sure each of them learned it from Lexi.
Despite the imperfections, of which there were many, she is already missed. She was loved and cared for. She had a very good and very long life. She was a happy and loving dog. She made people happy and she was loved by a lot of people