I haven’t had a great spot to discuss it yet, but a message from BN’er 5412 reminded me about the guy who isn’t a part of this year’s championship team, but who was a big part of the rest of the rebuilding process, from trough to peak.
No, he didn’t play an inning for this year’s championship team, having been traded to the Yankees just about one year ago. We can’t even say that he contributed indirectly to this year’s championship team by extension. Castro’s trade to the Yankees netted Adam Warren, whose time with the Cubs was deeply disappointing, and who was packaged into the deal for Aroldis Chapman, but was probably not a key, make-or-break part of that deal. Instead, the closest thing to which you could point is that the trade of Castro was a necessary precursor to signing Ben Zobrist, whose presence very much did help the Cubs win this year. But that was, in large part, as Castro’s replacement.
Still, Castro bore the weight of expectation for so many years since he arrived in the big leagues in 2010 when he was just 20 years old (probably a year too soon). He did help the 2015 team make its late-season push with a huge close to an otherwise disappointing year, and that season undoubtedly help put this year’s club in an even better position to be postseason ready when the bell rang. Castro played for the Cubs through some of the worst years in recent memory, and although his legacy with the team will be mixed because of unmet expectations, he deserves to be remembered as part of the process that got the Cubs to this point.
In case you hadn’t checked in and were curious, it was a disappointing first year in New York for Castro, who is now 26. He hit .270/.300/.433 (94 wRC+), and the defensive metrics did not love his work at second base. Castro still didn’t walk, and struck out more than he ever has – though he did hit a career-high 21 homers.
What was once a fantastic long-term extension has become a contract with which the Cubs are probably happy to be parted. Castro is due about $34 million over the next three seasons – he could certainly be worth that amount, though he netted just 1.1 WAR this year, calling into question whether he deserves the kind of playing time that would be necessary to even try to justify the contract at this point.
You can’t argue that this wasn’t a good and right outcome for the Cubs. Clearly, the front office made the right move and right decision around this time last year. You can, however, still feel a twinge of melancholy that Castro, running onto the field with a bucket on his head, was not a part of the Cubs team that finally did it.