It should strike none of you as a surprise that the Chicago Cubs are telling other teams that, as we approach trade season, they’re willing to listen on any player on the team.
According to Bob Nightengale, who cites “two high-ranking team officials [who spoke] on condition of anonymity because of competitive reasons,” says the only player the Cubs aren’t listening to offers on is Jeff Samardzija. Candidly, I’m quite certain the Cubs would entertain offers for any player, including Samardzija. But because of Samardzija’s unique situation – is he a breakout, front-line starter, or a fluke who will fall off later in the year? – you can understand why he would be difficult to trade. After all, how much is “enough” for Samardzija? I wouldn’t want to be the one pulling the trigger on that trade.
As for the rest of the Cubs, as I said, we know they’re available. But the one that will turn the most heads if he’s actually, actively discussed, is 22-year-old All-Star shortstop Starlin Castro.
Nightengale says Castro “can be obtained for two impact prospects.” Obviously Nightengale left himself quite a bit of wiggle room there – what is an “impact” prospect, after all? I’m fairly certain Starlin Castro will not be traded for “two impact prospects.” There are very few two prospect sets in all of baseball for whom the Cubs would trade Castro, a young man who is the age of a prospect but is already succeeding in the bigs. And, even if the Cubs tracked down such a set – let’s pick one out of the air and say Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado of the Orioles – would the other team really trade two of the best prospects in all of baseball for Castro? Why would they? It’s a deal that doesn’t really make sense on either side.
I hate saying things definitively like “X will not happen,” because baseball, like life, is considerably more grey than that. So I want to be clear: the Cubs will consider trading Castro. They’ll listen if teams want to blow them away. And there’s a teeny, tiny chance that a trade could be put together. But I’m confident that it would be quite a bit more complicated than a simple, “here’s two great prospects, we’ll take Castro” kind of swap. The price on Castro would be exorbitant.
But, as we turn the calendar to June, it’s safe to say: buckle up.
UPDATE: As I tweeted, Gordon Wittenmyer says the Castro part isn’t true, and that the Cubs consider him a “core” piece for the future. Then again, what else would you expect them to say. Just two days ago, Theo Epstein said he’s never understood, or subscribed to, the concept of making players untouchable.