The Chicago Cubs are a long way from being a championship contender, but one position they appear to be set at is shortstop. Starlin Castro looks like a surefire star that the team could build around. But in the interest of building for the future, the Cubs’ front office might actually consider putting the 22-year-old on the block this summer.
Castro carries a career .306 batting average, but as Buster Olney points out, he is still incredibly raw at the plate. One-quarter of the way through the 2012 season, Castro is hitting .316, but has a .326 on-base percentage and just four walks. Yes, Castro could turn into a perennial All-Star, but his approach at the plate could end up turning him into a fringe starter if he doesn’t develop.
Those raw skills that make him intriguing to the Cubs could also make him a very attractive trade piece. Theoretically, the Chicago could net at least two high-level prospects in return for him, not only for his ability and youth, but also because he plays a premium position up the middle of the diamond.
The problem with Castro is that some don’t believe he can stay at shortstop much longer. He has 64 errors in his first 325 big league games. If he is moved to another position, his offense won’t be a bonus. If he were a corner outfielder or was playing third base (for example) he would actually be an offensive liability because of his lack of power.
If Castro went on the market virtually every franchise that sees him sticking at short would show some level of interest in him. Teams like the Oakland A’s, Seattle Mariners and Arizona Diamondbacks could offer the most in terms of young talent, particularly when it comes to pitching.
But if Castro becomes available expect the big boys to come calling as well. The Detroit Tigers, San Francisco Giants, Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Red Sox would all certainly be on the phone to Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer and president Theo Epstein.
At this point in their rebuilding process it would be idiotic for the Cubs to decide anyone is untouchable. The team needs to get better from top to bottom and if one guy can net you several solid pieces in return, then you have to at least explore such a deal.
Expect guys like Brian LaHair, Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster to all be offered as trade bait as this season progresses. LaHair has been excellent this year so far, but he is blocking the younger Anthony Rizzo, who is raking in the minors.
At some point the Cubs need to dump the dead weight on their roster and hopefully by doing that they will be able to accelerate the rebuilding process. If moving Castro helps speed that along then it is something Chicago should certainly consider.