When Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer came aboard to captain the Chicago Cubs’ ship, they brought a plan with them. In that plan it was key to build up the farm system, building within instead of spending loads of money on aging veterans.
Right now, that plan looks like a masterpiece with most experts ranking the Chicago Cubs farm system as the best in baseball. Highlighted by draftee Kris Bryant and last year’s key acquisition, Addison Russell, the system continues to shine. Now, with that, you have to look at the current roster and see where will all the pieces fit into place to make the plan complete – leading to plenty of questions surrounding incumbent shortstop Starlin Castro.
Kris Bryant will be a part of the Cubs’ big league club very early and will likely be at third. Right now Castro is set as the team’s shortstop, but for how long?
Russell was brought in for a reason and that reason is to be the future shortstop for the Cubs. If Javier Baez can go back down to Triple-A Iowa and develop patience and ease up on the alarming strikeout rate, you know a spot will be made for him – which could very well be second base. If the Cubs management can decide now on where the future spot for Baez is, he could settle into that role on the diamond, and maybe then his mind can focus on his plate discipline.
So, where does this leave Castro? While a popular suggestion has been to move Bryant to right field. I, personally, have thought that since first seeing him in the minors; that it doesn’t seem like it will be done. At shortstop, Castro was making some improvements with his glove as he started to play better in the second half of the season before he lost the season’s final month to injury.
Is there a chance for him to move to the outfield? I doubt it with the players already set currently and several still-hopeful prospects that could take over in a few seasons for the Cubs, but crazier things have happened and not all prospects turn into gold.
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Castro is still very young; he will be only 25 in March with four full seasons under his belt and a pair of All-Star appearances. He has a very affordable contract with him which makes for a very attractive trading chip. There are many teams in baseball who could use a young veteran infielder who knows how to hit. A team like the New York Mets comes to mind immediately, especially with their need for a quality, cost-controlled shortstop and their known depth of young arms in their farm system but the Mets may not want to move those arms – even for a player like Castro.
I think Castro was a part of the plan from the beginning. At the very least, his name was on the list, but I also think his role with the plan has changed a few times. Now with the emergence of Bryant and the addition of Russell, Castro’s role in the plan may be to add the final piece or two to make that plan complete and the Cubs into the force that the plan was crafted to be. Will the New York Mets give in and make a move?
Starlin Castro has a bright future, it just may be in another uniform.