Cubs Notes: Russell, Castro, Mets

The Cubs dominated headlines over the weekend by trading Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the Athletics, and here’s the latest buzz around Wrigleyville…

  • James Russell‘s name was “heard very often” as a trade possibility this weekend, Peter Gammons tweets.  With Chicago in seller mode, Russell’s 2.22 ERA would definitely attract teams looking for a left-handed bullpen arm, though his 4.45 xFIP suggests he has been greatly helped by a .209 BABIP and an 82.6% strand rate this year.  Russell has also posted reverse splits this season by pitching much better against right-handed hitters, as opposed to his usual dominance over left-handed batters.  Russell, 28, is pitching on a one-year, $1.775MM contract and is arbitration-eligible for the final time this winter.  The southpaw also drew a lot of interest during last year’s trade deadline and was close to being dealt to the Braves.
  • A member of the Mets organization described Starlin Castro as “a perfect match” for their club, John Harper of the New York Daily News reports.  Addison Russell‘s acquisition makes the Cubs even deeper at shortstop and Castro seems like a logical trade candidate, while Harper feels the Mets have the young pitchers necessary to swing a deal.  Harper suggests Zack Wheeler and a minor league leaguer could interest the Cubs, though the Mets would balk at moving Wheeler and Jacob deGrom, or top prospect Noah Syndergaard.
  • Newsday’s David Lennon, however, doesn’t see the Mets rushing to acquire any major pieces this month, let alone for Castro.  In regards to the Cubs shortstop, the Mets would have issues taking on Castro’s contract and one New York official brought up Castro’s somewhat low on-base percentages as a cause for concern.
  • The Cubs’ focus on amassing position player depth in their minor league system stands contrary to the Cardinals’ long-standing strategy of developing as many young pitchers as possible, Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes.

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