Chicago Cubs Gradeout: Starlin Castro struggles amid trade speculation 2015


Chicago Cubs. STARLIN CASTRO. C.  151 G, .265 BA, .296 OBP, 145 H, 23 2B, 11 HR, 69 RBI . SS/2B

Infielder Starlin Castro had an up and down regular season for the Chicago Cubs in 2015. The 25-year-old and former No. 1 Cubs prospect is among the veterans for a team heavy on youth, and he will notch his 1,000th career hit in 2016.

Will that hit come for the Cubs?

Castro has put up very good numbers for Chicago since his call-up in 2010. He played every game in 2012, and all but one in 2013.

The .281 career hitter suffered through his second-worst season from an average standpoint, as he hit .265 in 2015. Not awful, and 20 points higher than his .245 in 2013, but off the mark from his typical stat lines, and would have been worse if not for a blazing final two months.

He came out of the gate hot last April, as he hit .325. He fell off in May, hitting just .221 for the month and fell to .265 overall as of May 31. He also struggled in the field. While he can make the great play, he would also make errors that would leave you scratching your head.

With that said, his 18 errors at shortstop last season is slightly less than the 27 he posted during his rookie campaign in 2010, or the 22 two seasons ago. However, he only played 109 games at shortstop this past season and committed six errors at second base in 38 games.

To be fair, it was his first time playing second base at any level since 2009 in the Arizona Fall League for the Mesa Solar Sox.

So what in the world led to Castro’s struggles?

Credit to Starlin for always saying the right things, and coming to the ballpark ready to play. “Whatever helps the team win,” was Castro’s response to questions regarding his playing time and position, per Bruce Levine, CBS Chicago in August.

His future became murky with the promotion of Addison Russell, the natural shortstop, who started out playing second base, but then made the shift following his own demotion. Castro was subsequently benched, before getting more looks at second base.

Amid trade rumors, and despite only hitting .170 for the month of July, Joe Maddon told Castro he would not be traded according to Jesse Matthews via ABC11. “Just relax and play. And don’t worry abut this stuff.” That was the message to Castro.

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It seemed to work.

In August Castro began finding his groove at the plate and ended up hitting .296 in August and .426 in September.

For the most part, he seemed to make second base work, and Maddon’s use of him was just another button he was able to push, all-the-while netting results for the surging North Siders down the stretch.

Starlin Castro still has tremendous upside, and while he may very well be back at the Friendly Confines come 2016 opening day, the Cubs are expected to at the very least, listen on trade offers surrounding the talented hitter.

The Cubs have a plethora of options to consider with regards to their team at the major league level, as well as talent in the minors.

Perhaps he is included in a trade for a starting pitcher. With the impact of Javier Báez as an everyday player and Russell as the shortstop for the Cubs, both potentially squeeze Castro out of an everyday spot in the lineup and on the field.

It looks like a good chance he will be celebrating his 1,000th career MLB hit elsewhere.