Chicago Cubs: Bold predictions for the upcoming offseason

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Javier Baez, not Starlin Castro, will get traded

For the past year, the Starlin Castro trade talks have been constantly on the hot stove back burner.

Last season, Jed Hoyer even went as far as to say the Cubs and Mets would someday make a deal involving a Cubs shortstop and a Mets starting pitcher. Given the glut of Cubs that can play middle infield including Castro, Baez, defensive wizard Addison Russell and the rapidly-rising 18-year-old Gleyber Torres in the system, the Cubs have depth to deal.

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The talk still centers around Castro due to his history as a three-time All-Star before regressing this past season and the Cubs’ plan to build with youth from within. However Castro is just 25 years old and showed flashes of his past success after a move to second base in the second-half.

When comparing trade value, in my opinion, Baez would fetch the higher return but is still relatively raw. He has a great power bat but spent most of last season in the minor leagues after struggling in spring training and his limited time in the big leagues.

Baez was eventually relied on in the NLCS after Russell went down with an injury that kept him off the roster but went just 1-for-10 against the Mets (although that’s a trend that was consistent up and down Chicago’s lineup).

With Castro, the Cubs have a known commodity who will be only three years older than Baez on Opening Day. If the Cubs are serious about 2016 being the start of the glory years, Castro makes more sense at second base with Baez being moved to fill one of the other holes on the roster, be it starting pitching, center field or bullpen help. Going back to the Fowler situation, a Baez swap for a player like Brett Gardner makes a lot of sense.

Next: Time to shore up the back-end