August 27, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro (13) completes the front end of a double play against Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun (8) during the seventh inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE

Cubs, Castro finalize seven-year deal Tuesday


Shortstop Starlin Castro agreed to a new 7-year, $60-million contract extension with the Chicago Cubs Tuesday – the same team that signed him as an amateur free agent in 2006. A deal had been rumored to be close to done several times in the past two weeks.

The deal is reported to include a $6 million signing bonus, to go along with salaries of $5 million for 2013 and ’14, $6 million in 2015, $7 million in 2016, $9 million in 2017, $10 million in 2018 and $11 million in 2019. A club option for the 2020 season is rumored at $16 million, or a $1 million buyout.

Castro, 22, is hitting .276 in 127 games for Chicago this season, with a career-high 12 home runs and is just three RBIs short of his personal-best of 66 runs batted in, which came last season. The Dominican Republic native is coming off a season in which he became the youngest player in Cubs history to amass 200 hits in a single season, and he also became the youngest player to lead the National League in hits, with 207.

His play has been criticized as lackadaisical at times, and at one point last season, he was seen on a national broadcast looking into left field as a pitch was delivered. He also led all National League shortstops in errors (29) to go along with the lowest fielding percentage in the league. This season, he also leads the league in errors, with 21 – two of which came in a Cubs loss to Milwaukee on Monday.

Despite this, Castro was named to his second consecutive All-Star Team this June, joining teammate Bryan LaHair, who enjoyed his first Midsummer Classic selection. He is approaching personal season-highs in both stolen bases (22) and  runs batted in (66), and has already tied his career-high for triples in a season, with nine.

The next step for Castro is to improve his mental toughness, something that has appeared to plague him throughout the last two seasons. His power numbers have improved this season, but his average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage are all down from his stellar 2011 campaign.

Castro leads the National League with 486 hits since making his big-league debut on May 7, 2010. In the game, he set the Major League record for most RBIs in a debut, driving in six in a 14-7 Cubs win over Cincinnati.

 

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Tags: Bryan LaHair Chicago Cubs Jed Hoyer Starlin Castro Theo Epstein