On Wednesday, Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon told shortstop Starlin Castro that he wasn’t going to be traded amid widespread speculation the front office was pushing for a trade involving the 25-year-old.
However, a new report from ESPN reporter Jayson Stark contradicts everything that Maddon said to Castro.
Maddon removed Castro from the game Tuesday against the Colorado Rockies in a double switch and then didn’t start him on Wednesday. The Cubs shortstop arranged a meeting with Maddon to find out what was going on.
Evidenced by his poor play of late, Castro said he isn’t handling the trade rumors well.
"It’s difficult sometimes. I’m not supposed to be thinking about this. Sometimes when we’re not doing good rumors sometimes are on my mind. It’s not supposed to. – Castro via ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers"
In this meeting, Maddon said that he told Castro that he wouldn’t be traded.
"“I said, ‘You’re not getting traded. Just relax and play. And don’t worry about this stuff.'”"
However, recent circumstance seems to contradict this.
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On Tuesday, ESPN writer Jim Bowden reported the Cubs interest in acquiring some combination of Padres’ starters Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross and closer Craig Kimbrel. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the Cubs aren’t interested in acquiring Padres’ ace James Shields – which is somewhat of a surprise.
Unsurprisingly, the Padres expect adequate compensation for their pitchers. In an ESPN Insider article, Bowden said that the Cubs would have to give up Castro, minor league pitching prospects C.J. Edwards and Pierce Johnson, and minor league outfielder Billy McKinney.
Yesterday, MLB Trade Rumors reported the Cubs had discussed moving Castro in trade talks with both the Philadelphia Phillies and San Diego Padres while Jon Heyman figured Javier Baez would likely be the focal point in a trade with the Friars.
In a 52-game Major League stint with the Chicago Cubs last season, the latter slashed .169/.227/.324 and hit nine home runs. This season at Triple-A Iowa, Baez has slashed .309/.381/.557 in 168 plate appearances and homered twice in a 9-0 victory over the Nashville Sounds this past Sunday.
A trade involving one of the Chicago Cubs young middle infielders is going to happen sooner or later whether we like it or not. Castro, Baez, and Addison Russell all play shortstop as their natural position.
Although he has experienced his share of growing pains this season, the verdict remains out on Addison Russell. At 21 years of age, the Cubs front office is unwilling to part ways with a player that has such tremendous upside based on a few struggles in his rookie season.
Age favors Baez over Castro as well. At 22, Baez still is learning and growing. By most accounts, he still has the potential to become an impact player in this league.
The 25-year-old Castro is in the midst of the worse year of his six-year Major League career. He has slashed .237/.271/.395 this season all of which are career lows. He has struck out 69 times and his win above replacement statistic is -1.3, also a career low.
Even more concerning than his dwindling batting production is his continued struggles in the field. He committed 17 errors this season and has a defensive war of -0.3 which ranks 89th among qualified shortstops this season.
If Theo Epstein is able to execute a trade involving Castro that yields a decent return it will be a win-win for the Chicago Cubs.
Castro’s career continues on a downward trajectory and getting rid of him while he still retains a remnant of trade value isn’t easy to do. In addition, with Castro gone, Russell and presumably Baez will receive more opportunities which will aid their development moving forward.
The three-time All-Star has had a good career in Chicago. However, with the influx of younger talent and the downward trajectory of his career, it is time for the Chicago Cubs to part ways with Starlin Castro.
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