Earlier tonight, CSN teased that Dave Kaplan would be breaking big Cubs news within the hour. Naturally, I assumed we were all about to be swiftly kicked in the groin.

Thankfully, that isn’t the case. The news is actually great news, depending on your perspective. From Kaplan:

[T]wo industry sources who have represented several MLB players over the past decade confirmed to me tonight that the Cubs are working on a long term deal for star shortstop Starlin Castro.

The deal, which could be six or more years in length, is expected to be finalized before the end of the 2012 season and would not only buy out the remaining arbitration years that Castro has, but at least two years of free agency which he will reach after the 2016 season.

We discussed the possibility of a long-term extension with Castro back in May (when his agent said Castro wasn’t interested in discussing an extension during the season – go figure). The thinking then, as it is now, is that these kind of pre-arbitration extensions represent one of the rare opportunities for both sides to truly win. The young player, who hasn’t yet made a whole lot of money, cashes in on a huge chunk of guaranteed cash. The team, who prefers not to risk going year-to-year on a potential star, locks up a young talent for years at a potentially discounted rate.

This is likely to be an ongoing story for some time, and it will be interesting to see how Castro’s extension is structured. The BN link above discusses some comparables, and I’d think the Cubs would love to get some team options built in at the end of Castro’s deal. Here are those comps from May, for those disinclined to click:

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).

For now, are you pleased that the Cubs look to be going this route with Castro? Would you have preferred that they shop him this Winter?

  • Flashfire

    On the subject of good young shortstops, apparently Javy Baez just needed a different spot in the batting order. He was moved from 3 to 6 today and responded with a 3-for-4 night with a home run and a double.

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    the cubs better get pretty sizable team favorable deal out of this. 7 year at $60 million seems pretty fair????

    • Pat

      7/60 would be a pretty good deal and would be worth the risk. Assuming he continues at his career averages ( and not his numbers this year). I would figure, going year to year until FA, 2.5 next year, 4.5 in 2013, 7 in 2014, 10 in 2015, and then at least 3/40 for the first three years of free agency. That would be 7/64. You usually can get 10% of on a long term deal which would out it at 56 mil approx. that’s assuming he doesn’t improve.

      Although, if it were me, I’d let him prove it another year or two before I locked him in. The risk/reward ratio gets much better the closer you get to losing team control.

      • dob2812

        The only thing about that Pat is that if you think this is him at his lowest point offensively, and if you think he really has improved at shortstop enough to stay there for the length of the contract, then you do the deal now before he starts to hit consistently again.

      • Drew7

        Yeah, until he goes. 315/.360/.490 next year and costs you 9- figures to lock up.

        • Pat

          You don’t have to lock him up for another four years at this point. Risking 60 million guaranteed to save six to ten million over six or seven years (and realistically there is no way you get a seventh year unless it’s for 18 to 20 mil) is not good risk reward. It would be like placing a four team parlay to get return odds of 1.5 to 1.

          If for some reason he does OPS in the .850 range next year, you let him do it a again the next couple. If he can do that, then he’s worth 9 figures on an extension.

          • Drew7

            So, to clarify- you’d go year by year for at least the next 3 years (age-25/26)? If he does produce that well, what’s an extension cost you then? I think those 9-figures get much more crooked.

          • hansman1982

            If he OPS’s around .850 next year the extension talks tilt heavily towards Castro, we lose years and money on that, BIG TIME. That would make him the best offensive SS in the bigs by a mile (Ian Desmond is #1 this year at .825 and Jeter is #2 at .784.

            Even in the “terrible” year he is having this year he is putting up LEAGUE average offense. In terms of wOBA and OPS he is 10th and 9th for SS. Waiting until he OPS’ .850 would be terrible as you would have to take an 11 figure extension and push it over $100M or it would mean we can’t buy out as many FA years.

            • Pat

              You realize that 11 figures means a minimum 10 billion, right? Don’t really see that happening.

              Yes, if he Put up an OPS of 850 it would mean he had a monster year, although that’s still well short of Tulo’s best years. Where is the indication he can put up those type of numbers? His best OPS was around 775. There’s simply no need to risk guaranteed money at this point.

              • hansman1982

                doh…bad math…I blame the private schools and their lack of funding…

                OPS’ing .750 on a regular basis with plus D makes you one of, if not the, best SS in the game. Considering Castro has 20/20 potential and the tools to hit .300 on a regular basis that is a guy you lock up at age 22 every day of the dang week.

                You’re saying that we shouldn’t lock him up on the basis of this season, where he is still a top-10 SS in all of baseball (offensively). Let’s say this is his new norm, who wouldn’t want that out of their SS position for the next 6 years.

                • hansman1982

                  for some reason I had it stuck in my mind that 9 figures meant 1-9,999,999…I am dumb.

              • bbmoney

                The biggest indication that he can put up better OPS and overall offensive numbers is the fact that he’s doing this at 22. The fact that you can say he’s having a down year with his numbers at age 22 is pretty incredible.

                Granted Tulo put up an 800+ OPS in his age 22 season, but he also had the advantage of playing half his games at Coors Field. Another comp I’ve seen Miguel Tejada was still in the minors and played 26 games in 1997 when he was by my calc’s 23.

  • Brian8806

    Well, he has vastly improved in areas of the game(mainly defensively, in which he has improved dramatically) but I would probably have held off on a big extension at least until he started to refine in all areas. I mean, 6 years is a lot to commit to a number 7 hitter. I think it’s still an “if” rather than a “when” on him improving his plate discipline and OBP. Having said all that, I would take 6 years of Starlin over 90% of the shortstops in the game right now.

  • http://bleachernation.com someday…2015?

    Big game by Pierce Johnson tonight. 2IP 0H 0R 0ER 1BB (5SO!!) 0HR and is now sporting a healthy 2.25 ERA. Also another 2-5 for Almora. He is now 4-10 in his first 2 games at Boise.

  • Tommy

    Shortstops that can hit are hard to come by. Shortstops as young as Castro that can hit are almost impossible to come by. I’m very happy to hear this news and hope he’s the first big long term signing for the team that will lead us to our first W.S. since 1908!

  • Curt

    myb hell concentrate more now if he gets that deal being that he’ll be able to feed his family, I don’t know if he deserves ghis deal because I think he’s regressed offensively , but I guess mh question is, is the regression him or the lack of winning wearing on him. Yr call Brett is he worth the kind of money hell get.

  • AJ

    Don’t know if anyone has brought this up with Castro but could it be that his offensive struggles could be a result of him working so hard to improve his defense this season. Hopefully over the winter he can combine the two and really have a breakout year all around.

  • florida Al

    i wish they wouldve shopped him. with so many ss in the system something needs to change. and besides i cant stand his appeared lazy ways…..aka aramis ramirez.

    • abe

      I think if castro turns it around this will make him more valuable because he is locked for years. I think i would rather have McCutchen now because he is a cheap.

    • Glenallen Hill’s One Home Run

      From most accounts, there isn’t a lazy bone in his body. Castro works his butt off and it really does show. Yeah, he makes youthful mistakes that need to be eliminated, but I think you’d be hard-pressed to find moments in which he’s loafing.

  • fester30

    The quality of the lineup around you can also hold you back. If he was still in the 1 or 2 slot I think his numbers might be what they used to be. The Cubs, however, have been trying to convert him into a run producer instead of a run scorer, changing his approach at the plate. Then if you consider guys aren’t getting on base in front of him or hitting particularly well behind him, he won’t see as many decent pitches. Sure, some of it is on him for flailing away at garbage, but I do believe in many cases the quality of the lineup and place in the lineup plays into a guy’s struggle or success.

  • abe

    I wonder if this has anything to do with the fact that castro said recently that he needs to feed his family. Maybe he needs more money for his family back home and it is weighing in his mind and is causing his slump. If the cubs lock him up he and his family will be set for life and he can go and focus on playing ball.

  • rhino70

    Excellent news!

    Avoid arbitration and early free agency. Control the costs, while giving a young player the security he desires. Good move for both the Cubs and Starlin.

    • Hee Seop Chode


  • Steve

    I think this is a ploy…by the FO, to make it appear that we are sold on him and this summer some team will come in and sweep us off our feet.
    Also, we havent landed on the moon…

  • wax_eagle

    Hooray for game theory!

  • Pingback: Starlin Castro’s Agent Confirms Extension Talks and Other Bullets | Bleacher Nation | Chicago Cubs News, Rumors, and Commentary()

  • Big Joe

    “comparable players, such as…” Andrew McCutchen??? Yeah, right. Castro is no McCutchen. 6 years??? I don’t ever want to hear anyone complain about Soriano again. At least he was 40/40 before he received his contract. Castro is young, and his upside is high…but 6 years? I guess Hendry wasn’t that crazy after all…

    • Bucktown Scott

      How is this comparable to Soriano? Castro is 9 years younger than Soriano was when he signed a , 9 years!! Also, Soriano got an 8 year contract that increased in value each year while his performance would be expected to decrease (ages 35+).

      You are comparing a $136 million/8 year contract for a 31 year old left fielder, to a $40ish million/6 year contract for a 22 year old shortstop?

      Also, McCutchen debuted in the MLB when he was 22 years old, Castro has been here for almost 3 years. He is not as good, but plays a tougher position and has tons of room for growth. Good organizations lock those players up so they can start focusing on real holes.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      First of all, that comparable list came from back in May, before McCutchen went all MVP.

      Second of all, when it comes to pre-arbitration extensions of this length, go do some digging and you’ll find that there aren’t a ton of comparables. You’re not going to find an exact comp. McCutchen is probably as close as you’re going to find.

      Third of all, “six years” includes the four years that he’s already under control.

      • Chad

        So what are your thoughts on the deal Brett? Wouldn’t the Elvis deal be the most comparable. They bought out 3 years of arb for 15M. We would try to buy out 4 years + 2 free agent years. Simliliar money would put us around $35M for 6 years. Am I reading that Elvis deal correclty that he got 14.8 over three years?

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          I’m going to study the comps more closely soon before trying to come up with a number. Castro’s situation is slightly different from all of them because it involves four arbitration years, rather than a pre-arb year and three arb years, or just three arb years. I think Castro would do slightly better than Andrus, if they were both signing the same kind of deal at the same time. Andrus got $14.4 million over his three arb years after coming to the table with far better defense than Castro, but not close to the offensive numbers.

        • bbmoney

          I’m interested to see further analysis on this. But if the Andrus year didn’t buy out an FA years the money won’t be comparable if the Cubs buy out 2+ years of FA. I got to believe you’re looking at 12M + per year of FA and probably more per year the more years you add. The 5M per year of Arb sounds about right though.

          Of course I also think Starlin projects to be much more valuable than Andrus offensively. But that’s just my thought, like I said, love to see a closer look by those more knowledgable.

          • bbmoney

            I don’t think McCutchen is a bad comp. Look at what he did before this year. The current year is largely irrelevant to the extension he signed since he signed what in April or May of this year? A little more power, a little more speed, a lower batting average although he’s always taken a walk.

            He was also what 3 years older when he signed? So Starlin can still develop more power and more offensively overall ….he is 22 after all.