Starlin Castro, 22, is going to be eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2012 season. The Super Two cut-off after this year is expected to be about two years and 134 days, which means Castro will qualify, giving him four years of arbitration, rather than the usual three. Although the Cubs currently have control over Castro through 2016, with arbitration looming, he’s going to get expensive.
Naturally, therefore, it’s fair to start considering the possibility of an extension (especially after offseason sexual assault allegations were resolved without charges), which could buy out not only all four of his arbitration years, but possibly a free agent year or three. Doing so would ensure that Castro is under contract with the Cubs through his prime years.
But, if those extension talks are going to happen, they’ll probably have to wait until after the season, according to Castro’s agent, Paul Kinzer.
“Maybe after the season [we can talk about an extension], but I’m not really interested during the season to talk about it,” Kinzer told the Tribune. “I don’t want any distractions.”
It’s not a surprising position, as many players refuse to negotiate during the season.
Assuming that position holds firm, extension talks figure to be one of the more prominent story lines in the offseason, given Theo Epstein’s predilection with the Red Sox to locking up young players long-term on team-friendly deals. As we’ve discussed before, the goal in signing a young player to an extension that covers his arbitration years is that the player gets a big chunk of guaranteed money (Castro has barely made $1 million so far in his career) in exchange for giving up the possibility of huge raises in arbitration, and maybe a huge score in free agency.
Comparable players (as close as we have anyway) have recently signed these kinds of deals, including Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus ($14.4 million over three arbitration years), Cameron Maybin (five years and $25 million, including a pre-arb year, three arbitration years, and one free agent year, plus an $8 million option year thereafter), Andrew McCutchen (six years, $51.7 million, including a pre-arb year, three arbitration years, two free agent years, plus a $14.75 million option year thereafter), and Justin Upton (six years, $50 million, including a pre-arb year, three arbitration years, and two free agent years).
A deal in those ranges seems like a fair starting point for negotiations, and would be a good deal both for Castro and the Cubs.