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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.

  • http://justinjabs.com/blog Justin Jabs

    Lock him up!

    • FromFenwayPahk

      Too soon, and…too soon.

      • http://justinjabs.com/blog Justin Jabs

        Aw come on, 14 years on the dotted line… let’s beat out Votto!

  • Cubbie Blues

    $63 mil over 6 years puts him a little over Upton and McCutchen (which I would say he is).

    • Smitty

      Agree, especially considering he plays SS.

    • Dave

      Do you think he deserves more because he plays a premium position while the other two are outfielders.?
      I would not consider Castro better offensivley then Upton or McCutchen.

      • Cubbie Blues

        Yes, the fact that he plays SS and the new CBA both weighed in on it. Offensively, I would put him in the same caliber. Defensively, he has the potential of being a perennial gold glove. I am of the opinion that he will grow in the position and cut down on the errors significantly. Also, Theo has said that they are going to pay for future performance and not past. They are going to want to lock him up. I wouldn’t be too surprised to see a longer contract than 6 (if Castro’s camp would go for it).

      • JulioZuleta

        I would consider Castro to be considerably more valuable than McCutchen.

        Age 21 seasons:

        Castro: . 307/.341/.432 36 2Bs 9 3Bs 10 HRs 22 SBs
        McCutchen: .283/.372/.398 26 2Bs 3 3Bs 9 HRs 34 SBs

        Castro had better numbers playing SS at the same age than McCutchen did playing OF. Also, those numbers you see up there, Castro’s were in the Major Leagues and McCutchen’s were in AAA. McCutchen is a very good player, but I think Starlin is actually undervalued by some Cub’s fans.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        I think that the best way to look at this is to compare players relative to the averages for their position.  Here are the standardized OPS’ for the 3 guys in question, which equal (Player OPS) – (Position Average OPS):

        Upton: 0.898-0.782=0.116

        McCutchen: 0.820-0.734 = 0.086

        Castro: 0.773-0.695 = 0.078

        The error bars on OPS are a little tricky to compute, but McCutchen & Castro are basically indistinguishable whereas Upton stands ahead.  What this simply means is that, game in and game out, Castro & McCutchen both generally provide about the same (high) value over the same guy on the other team, whereas Upton is generally providing extremely high value over the same guy on the other team.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Incidentally, this does also illustrate why moving Castro to CF (as Phil Rogers suggested, I think) is such a lousy idea.  The average CFer has an OPS of 0.04 higher than the average SS: and thus Castro’s value decreases by that same amount.

        • Cubs Dude

          Exactly, as soon as you give up on Castro at short the Cubs lose out on a huge advantage over the opposition with how well he hits there. Hopefully the never think of moving him.

  • King Jeff

    I don’t think that there’s any need to rush this, but it’s nice to know at least one side of the equation is thinking about it.

  • Cubs Dude

    Castro = absolute stud,
    Castro = most underrated player in mlb,
    Castro = best chance to hit .400 in a yr.

    • Seth

      Agree.
      Agree.
      Agree.

    • Wilbur

      Agree
      Disagree
      Disagree, but I don’t see it happening again …

      • Cubs Dude

        If I were to pick any player over the course of their career with best shot to hit .400, I would take Castro hands down. But, it is unlikely that anyone will do that anytime soon..

        • Andrew

          If you look at Ted Williams’ numbers when he hit .400, you’ll notice he did so not only because of an unusually high BABIP (.378), but largely because of a huge walk total (24.3%) indicating amazing pitch selection and a small AB/HR (12.3) meaning hes getting homers to raise that BA even higher. To get to .400, these are the things players need. Castro can get the high BABIP that will get him a good average but until he gets those other 2 skills honed, which I dont know if he can, I don’t think he’s the most likely to get to .400. If you look at the very high BAs over the years, it’s usually guys with a great eye and some pop.

          • josh

            He also needs more quality hitters around him in the order

  • Featherstone

    I also have noticed that Castro has been significantly better defensively the last few weeks as well. If he can be a career SS his value will be sky-high. I’d love to sign him to a 6 year 50ish million contract and really cement him in as the face of this franchise.

    • Cubs Dude

      I have thought the same thing. Especially the last several games Castro has seemed smooth at short. If he can keep his concentration up that would be huge.

  • Jeremy

    I have no problem with them waiting until the end of the year to get an extension worked out. It makes sense to wait until then IMO. As long as we lock him up, I’m ok with that. I think a 6 year deal between 50-60 million would be ideal.

  • http://calebshreves.blogspot.com Caleb

    Agree with most of this. Especially Feather and Cubs Dude. (and thanks, Doc, for the cool analysis).

    When a young guy like this has a lot of errors, but also a lot of ridiculously good plays, I tend to think they can be rockstar defensive players.

    It comes down to what is more likely: teaching an average, error-free defensive shortstop to make legendary gold glove plays, or teaching a legendary gold glove playmaker to reduce the errors on typical plays.

    We’ve seen Castro be ridiculous. I’m optimistic that his “standard” fielding can improve given his athleticism, inexperience, and youth.

    And locking him up for 6 years? Easy decision. Castro, at 6 years and even 75 million, seems unbelievably better than Soriano– 6 years, ten billion dollars.*

    Lock him up! (not a reference to his dismissed sexual assault case)

    *all caveats on the Soriano signing apply

  • baseballet

    Compared to last year, on offense Castro is hitting singles and triples at a higher rate, but is hitting home runs at a lower rate. His slugging percentage is up from .432 to .468, but I’d still like to see some more improvement in his power numbers. He is stealing bases at a much higher rate and could finish with 50 SB if he continues at this pace.
    On defense, he is ranging all over the place to catch the ball, but he continues to have problems making routine throws to first base. That’s a deficiency that may stick around. I suspect that players who are inaccurate throwers tend to stay that way, even with more experience.
    I don’t know what a singles hitting machine with an impatient plate approach, who steals lots of bases but has trouble making his throws, is worth. I think Castro is worth quite a bit, but he hasn’t shown the power or the consistency I’d like from a superstar deserving of a mega contract.

  • Andrewmoore4isu

    I’m worried about him having babies and stuff

  • die hard

    Castro has to choose to beef up like Pujols and he has frame to do it…then he moves to 3B or OF…then he is a sure bet for Pujols power numbers…

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