With all of the hype about the Chicago Cubs' young talent blossoming into Major-League ready producers come the rumors that team management will need to trade away some of that talent to build a strong starting rotation. Some of those rumors have included the trading of shortstop Starlin Castro. However, as CBS Sports' Jon Heyman has discovered, Castro is simply not available. In fact, Heyman notes that Castro "isn't going anywhere" and cites team management as making that announcement.
In his Sunday afternoon report, Heyman says, "The Cubs informed the Mets, the Yankees (before they acquired Didi Gregorius) and other teams that Castro won't be going anywhere. So expect no Castro talk."
The Cubs have no reason to move the 24-year-old potential star in the making. In just five seasons, Castro has already made three National League All-Star teams (2011, 2012, 2014) and led the National League in hits (2011). He has played at least 125 games each year since his debut in May of 2010, a stretch that included playing in all but five games from 2011-2013. He was on pace to repeat that durability this year, playing in 134 games until he sprained his ankle on September 3 while sliding into home plate. He missed the Cubs' final 23 games.
So far, Castro has career statistics of .284/.325/.410, 51 HR, 294 RBI, 70 SB, and 1.9 average WAR. This record includes a poor 2013 in which he hit just .245 and had a -0.6 WAR. In 2014, he rebounded to hit .284 with a career-high-tying 14 HR. He had few men on base to drive in, but when he had the chance, he produced to the tune of 65 RBI with a 2.0 WAR for the low-scoring, last-place Cubs.
Heyman reminds us that the Cubs have a top-rated shortstop awaiting his chances in the Minor Leagues. Addison Russell was the key player the Cubs received in the July 6 trade that sent starting pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the Oakland Athletics.
Russell, though, is only 20, and he has yet to make his Major League debut. He has hit a robust .300 in three Minor League seasons, which includes .294, 12 HR, and 36 RBI in just 50 games for the Cubs' Double-A affiliate, the Tennessee Smokies, after the trade. However, he has not yet seen even Triple-A. Most likely, he will begin the season in Iowa, the Cubs' Triple-A affiliate. Heyman says that Russell is "still a year away from the big leagues, making it necessary for the Cubs to keep Castro."
Remember also that the Cubs have a very team-friendly contract with Castro. The shortstop has five years and $43 million left on the contract he signed in mid-2012. That contract is back-loaded: $22 million from 2015-2017 ($7-million AAV for three years) and $21 million from 2018-2019 ($11.5 million AAV for two years). Should the Cubs exercise the 2020 team option for $16 million, then the contract totals $59 million. At today's soaring salaries, Castro is a bargain, especially if he continues to improve.
The Cubs plan to contend beginning in 2015 and for years to come. They spent the past few seasons building a team meant to win. Castro is one of the home-grown core players that can help propel the Cubs into contention. Heyman relayed the management's announcement that Castro will remain a Cub, and Cub fans should consider that a great announcement.