It should come as no surprise, but the rumors of Starlin Castro being shopped have begun. Julie DiCaro of 670 The Score chucked a big ol’ piece of wood into the hot stove Monday morning with this tweet:
Okay, maybe it comes as a little bit of a surprise, given his performance down the stretch and Theo Epstein’s stated desire to maintain depth at several positions. But despite those marks in his favor, I think we’ve all known for quite some time that Castro had become somewhat expendable in terms of the future of this team. I don’t mean that to sound harsh, but it’s true.
After all, the only reason they weren’t able to move him prior to the deadline was because his value had fallen so low that they had no other choice. While that may be oversimplifying things a bit, it’s true as a nutshell version of Castro’s season. What’s also true is that he took a demotion and positional change in stride, excelling for the Cubs both on the field and at the plate after becoming the (nearly) everyday second baseman.
Other than Daniel Murphy, I can’t think of another player who increased his stock to such a great degree in such a short period of time. Of course, it Murphy’s case, we saw a mediocre player look like a world-beater in the playoffs. Castro’s situation was more that of positive regression after being plagued by mechanical — and perhaps psychological — issues early in the season.
While I got down on him for a bit there, I have remained a fervent Castro apologist and I loved little more than to tweet out the full version of the featured image above every time he did something good. Castro was polarizing, to be sure, but his rise from the ashes made him a sympathetic character who became central to the Cubs’ late-season success. To see him dealt would be disappointing to me on a personal level.
However, much as I wrote concerning Chris Coghlan’s role in Chicago, it all comes down to whether the front office believes Castro’s greatest value is in what they can get from him or in what they can get for him. Whatever happens, I want it to be in the best interest of both Castro and the Cubs and I am confident in Epstoyer’s ability to make at least the latter half work out.
Feel free to speculate on what this means in terms of Javier Baez or Ben Zobrist or maybe another Ryne Sandberg un-retirement.