An end to the Starlin Castro rumors for a good long while?
Jon Heyman reports that the Cubs’ front office told the Mets, the Yankees (before they got Didi Gregorius), and other teams that Starlin Castro “won’t be going anywhere,” which Heyman describes as Castro being “not available.”
My suspicion radar – or at least my language parsing radar – is activated here because this front office has made it very clear that there are never any players who are “not available.”
To be fair to Heyman, though, lets assume that what he or his source heard is that interested teams have been told that the Cubs aren’t shopping Castro at this time, and he falls into the category of, “sure, if you want to absolutely blow us away, make an offer.” Effectively, at this time of year when lots of other players are shopped, that makes Castro “unavailable.”
In other words, as Heyman said, Castro isn’t going anywhere right now.
To which I say: huzzah! Sure, the Cubs could get a haul for Castro, and sure, there may come a time in the near future when he becomes the kind of semi-surplus player that the Cubs are better off dealing for value than accommodating on the roster, but that day is not this day. Addison Russell is a stud, but he hasn’t played above AA. Kris Bryant is a stud, but his position is uncertain. Javier Baez is a stud, but he’s also got legit bust potential. Arismendy Alcantara is a stud, but not the kind of stud that makes you comfortable trading away Castro.
In other words, even if you can formulate a future lineup using those players in various positions that makes Castro obsolete, right now, you’re dreaming. We’re just not there yet. If the Cubs want to be competitive in 2015, then they absolutely have to hang on to Starlin Castro. They’ll need his bat in the lineup, and the fact that the bat comes at a premium position (where he can play at least right around average defensively) is a bonus.
If all the youngsters break out, and the Cubs’ front office feels reasonably comfortable that they’re “established” enough to make Castro movable without the big league team suffering too much from his loss (and it could be more than offset by whatever comes back in trade), then sure, shop away. Or, the dream scenario is that Castro has a huge year (the Cubs have a great year, too), the youngsters establish themselves, and the Cubs are in the total catbird seat next offseason.
As I said: we’re just not there yet.*
If you’re the optimistic type, let me submit to you that the Cubs’ unwillingness to deal Castro right now suggests they feel pretty good about their chances at landing quality pitching targets this offseason via other means.
*(Obligatory caveat: if the Cubs had a series of moves up their sleeve that not only brought in an absurdly good return for Castro and then also added to the big league roster such that they’re net better off after the deal – even considering the unproven-ness of the youngsters who might then be thrust into positions of prominence – then, of course, trade away at any time. I just don’t think that’s very realistic right now.)