Starlin Castro Rumors
Cubs manager Dale Sveum is upset with his team's recent play and says that players who don't perform won't have big-league jobs, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun Times reports. That goes for top young players Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo. "I don’t think [anyone’s] invincible if you’re not performing," Sveum says regarding Castro and Rizzo. "It’s not about what we think can happen three or four years from now. It’s time to perform on a consistent basis."
Wittenmyer writes that Sveum's harsh words for Castro and Rizzo "threw a sudden dose of skepticism and doubt into the widespread assumptions about the Cubs’ core," but acknowledges that, in reality, Castro and Rizzo will be with the Cubs for the foreseeable future. Sveum is suggesting they might be demoted, but that seems extremely unlikely, and it's even less likely that either of them would be traded. The Cubs signed Castro to a seven-year, $60MM contract last August. Rizzo is not signed to a long-term deal. Both players have hit well this season despite occasional mistakes in the field. Here are more notes from around the majors.
- John Poloni -- also known as the "fat scout" in Michael Lewis' Moneyball -- lobbied for the Athletics to draft Tim Hudson in 1997, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. Hudson wasn't regarded as a top draft prospect due to his size, but Poloni told the A's that Hudson had "the best sinker he'd ever seen." 16 years later, Hudson is nearing his 200th win in the big leagues. That doesn't mean Poloni is rushing to take credit, however. "He exceeded my expectations, too," Poloni says. "A lot of times, it's pure luck."
- Last offseason's big-ticket free agents haven't performed well so far, says the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Rick Hummel. One of the highest-profile disappointments thus far has probably been Josh Hamilton of the Angels, although it's still early enough in the season that one big series could make any player's statistics look considerably better.
The Cubs and the Diamondbacks recently discussed the feasibility of a trade involving right fielder Justin Upton, two major league sources told Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com. According to both sources, the Diamondbacks asked for two-time All-Star Starlin Castro in return for Upton and were rebuffed. Theo Epstein & Co. decided that the asking price was too high and cut off talks.
Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers has an obvious surplus of talent in the outfield but he has made it clear that he wants quality in return for Upton, Jason Kubel, or anyone else. Meanwhile, the asking price for Upton may not be the only hurdle to overcome in a deal involving the Cubs. The Cubs are on the 25-year-old's no-trade list, along with the Blue Jays, Red Sox, and Mariners. Upton invoked his limited no trade privileges in order to block a deal to Seattle earlier this winter.
Upton has three years remaining on his deal and is owed $38MM over that span. Despite the lofty price tag that Towers has put on Upton, the club is still reportedly intent on moving him.
A few NL Central free agent targets were identified today, as the Brewers and Cubs are in on Jason Grilli among other relievers, the Pirates have expressed interest in John Lannan, and the Cardinals are in the mix for Scott Hairston. More from the division...
- The Cardinals met with Marco Scutaro's agent tonight, tweets Danny Knobler of CBS Sports. Scutaro is represented by Barry Praver.
- Pirates GM Neal Huntington told reporters including Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, "In our minds, we’ve already made our big move with Russ." The Bucs signed Russell Martin for $17MM last week, but still have some work to do. Biertempfel notes that the Pirates have shown interest in five recently non-tendered pitchers: Manny Parra, Lannan, Tom Gorzelanny, Jair Jurrjens, and Mike Pelfrey.
- There have been no substantive talks between the Cardinals and Adam Wainwright about an extension, writes Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Cardinals, of course, still remain interested in doing an extension with the 31-year-old before his contract season officially begins.
- Most of the quality lefty relievers are likely to be signed by week's end, suggested Cardinals GM John Mozeliak (B.J. Rains of FOX Sports Midwest reporting).
- The Cardinals and infielder Skip Schumaker are open to a trade, reports Rains, but of course it'd have to make sense for the team.
- The pressure of last summer's contract extension talks affected the performance of Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro, agent Paul Kinzer told Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com. The 22-year-old can rest easy now that he's under contract through at least 2019.
- The Cubs remain popular with free agents, president Theo Epstein told reporters including Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. The team is looking to get creative at third base and will continue to monitor the available starting pitchers (and presumably relievers). Epstein suggested the Cubs have interest in some recently non-tendered players.
The Cubs have signed Starlin Castro to a contract extension that will keep the 22-year-old shortstop under contract for the remainder of his 20s. The team officially announced a seven-year extension that covers Castro's four arbitration seasons and at least three seasons of free agent eligibility. Paul Kinzer of Wasserman Media Group represents Castro, whose seven-year deal includes $60MM in guaranteed money.
Castro has posted a .276/.311/.418 batting line with 12 homers in 540 plate appearances this season. Despite his youth, he already has three full seasons of MLB experience and was on track to go to arbitration for the first time this offseason. As a super two player, he has four seasons of arbitration eligibility.
The deal locks Castro up through 2019, which means he and prospects Jorge Soler and Gerardo Concepcion are the only Cubs players under contract beyond 2014. Soler's nine-year, $30MM contract extends through 2020 and Concepcion's five-year, $6MM contract extends through 2016.
Castro will receive a $6MM signing bonus before earning $5MM in 2013 and 2014, $6MM in 2015, $7MM in 2016, $9MM in 2017, $10MM in 2018 and $11MM in 2019, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (Twitter links). If Castro finishes in the top five of the MVP voting twice over the life of his contract, his 2019 salary and the value of his $16MM option will each increase by $2MM. All told, the maximum value of his contract including escalators would be $79MM over eight years.
The eighth-year option includes a $1MM buyout that is part of the $60MM guarantee, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). The deal doesn't include a no-trade clause, Heyman reports (on Twitter).
Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes.com first reported that the sides reached an agreement after David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com first reported that the two sides were working on a long-term deal. Post by Ben Nicholson-Smith with Zach Links and Steve Adams. Photo courtesy of US Presswire.
FRIDAY, 5:58pm: Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that it would be a six or seven-year contract with a club option for one additional year. Castro is a Super Two, so the Cubs would be buying out all of four years of arbitration eligibility plus two or three free agent years. Talks continue to progress and a deal could be completed by next week.
THURSDAY, 10:58pm: Castro's agent Paul Kinzer confirmed to Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com that he has had talks with the club about a new deal. "I've been working with the Cubs on contract negotiations for a period of time," Kinzer said. "Starlin would like to be a Chicago Cub for many years to come."
8:23pm: The Cubs are working on a long-term deal with shortstop Starlin Castro, two industry sources told David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com. The deal could be for six or more years and is expected to be finalized before the end of the 2012 season.
A six-year deal would buy out Castro's remaining arbitration years and two years of free agency which he would reach after the 2016 season. Castro's agents at Wasserman Media Group are likely to look at fellow shortstops Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, and Troy Tulowitzki as possible comps for the 22-year-old.
Earlier this year, Mike Axisa estimated that the Cubs will have to spend roughly $20MM to cover his arbitration years and $12-15MM for each year of free agency. Theo Epstein & Co. have an additional year of arbitration to cover as the shortstop is likely to qualify as a Super Two.
One baseball source opined to Kaplan that the Cubs were foolish to promote the shortstop as early as they did in the 2010 season. Had they waited longer to bring Castro to the big leagues, they could have delayed the start of his service clock and prevented him from achieving Super Two status.
Castro's offensive production hasn't been as strong as it has in the previous two seasons as he's hitting .276/.307/.422 with 12 homers in 495 plate appearances. Defensively, Castro has a UZR/150 of 5.1, the best of his three campaigns.
Mike Axisa contributed to this post.
A look at news on Reds and the Cubs..
- Starlin Castro's agent, Paul Kinzer, told Fred Mitchell of the Chicago Tribune that he planned on tabling contract talks until after the season until the Cubs approached him. The two sides are working on a new deal that would keep him in Chicago through 2018 and possibly beyond.
- Manager Dusty Baker and the Reds still have yet to have talks about a contract extension and Baker says that he doesn't expect to do so anytime soon, writes John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer.
- Meanwhile, team president Bob Castellini told Barry M. Bloom of MLB.com that he hopes to have Baker as a part of the Reds organization for a long time. Castellini wouldn't tip his cap as to when contract talks could get started between the two sides but indicated that the timing would likely be agreed upon mutually.
- Castro has instructed Kinzer not to give him updates on the negotiations and to only notify him when a deal is done, tweets Doug Padilla of ESPNChicago.com.
At least one baseball person wonders if Ryan Dempster hurt his free agent stock by agreeing to join the Rangers, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports. The American League, referred to by one general manager as "the big boy league," features some high-powered offenses that could have impact Dempster’s numbers and diminish his leverage in offseason contract talks. Here are more notes from Olney...
- The Dodgers were interested in Dempster, but they never pushed for him, Olney reports. The Dodgers didn’t want to trade from their core of good prospects and they didn’t waver when the Cubs asked about their top minor leaguers.
- Olney suggests teams like the Red Sox and Orioles could have interest in Brandon McCarthy if the Athletics place him on waivers when he returns from the disabled list.
- Before the trade deadline, the Phillies made it clear that they would not pick up any of Cliff Lee’s salary in a trade and would also want prospects in return for the left-hander. Olney suggests it’s highly unlikely Lee will be moved in a waiver deal this month.
- Starlin Castro’s name came up in conversations between the Cubs and Diamondbacks leading up to the trade deadline, Olney writes. However, both sides moved on quickly and a deal was never close.
- Olney wonders if the Nationals could pursue in Derek Lowe given their interest in adding pitching leading up to the trade deadline.
Trading Felix Hernandez for offense would make sense for the Mariners, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports suggests. Hernandez, who’s under contract through 2014 and can block deals to ten teams, has a 3.52 ERA with 8.7 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 94 2/3 innings this year. Here are more of Rosenthal’s notes from around MLB...
- Few teams are willing to take on high salaries and part with premium prospects, Rosenthal writes. This would limit the Mariners’ potential trade partners were they to consider trading Hernandez.
- The Mariners asked the Cubs about Starlin Castro and asked the Royals about Billy Butler in recent weeks, Rosenthal reports. They also talked to other clubs about potential trades for hitters, but none of the discussions progressed.
- Virtually every team contacted the Cubs following a report indicating that Castro was available. However, the Cubs haven’t actually put Castro on the trading block.
- Butler is also relatively untouchable, Rosenthal writes. The Royals consider him a core piece.
Two days ago we heard that the Cubs are letting teams know that almost all of their players -- other than Jeff Samardzija and Starlin Castro -- are available in trades. Chicago's north side will be a hot source of rumors over the next few weeks, so let's keep track of today's news here, with the latest up top...
- Contrary to spring rumors, the Cubs never had a handshake agreement with outfielder Jorge Soler, but their interest in the Cuban was legit and figures to intensify now that he's officially a free agent, writes Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. Manager Dale Sveum, who watched Soler workout this offseason, described his hitting as "pretty strong" today.
- Matt Garza is available for the right offer, reports ESPN's Buster Olney (Twitter links). The Yankees have interest and Olney speculates that the Blue Jays could be a fit given their need for high-end starting pitching and cache of tradeable prospects.
- "If I'd known that, it would have made me think about it," said Castro to reporters (including Paul Sullivan of The Chicago Tribune) when asked about the trade rumors. "That's what I want — to be here all my career. I don't want to go anywhere. I have my family here. I don't want to be traded."
Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein has denied that his team is exploring deals for Starlin Castro, report Doug Padilla and Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago. "Starlin Castro is the type of player we're looking to build around," Epstein said. "There has been no trade consideration with him whatsoever."
USA Today's Bob Nightengale reported earlier today that the Cubs were open to dealing anyone but Jeff Samardzija from the roster, including Castro, who was reportedly available for the price of "two impact prospects." Castro, 22, is under team control through 2016 and is arbitration-eligible for the first of four years this winter due to his Super Two status.
Padilla and Levine cite an Epstein quote from earlier in the week, where the executive said that while no player was entirely untouchable, some players "are core pieces that it's almost impossible to foresee moving. You would have to be completely blown away to even contemplate it." Clearly it would take such a knockout trade offer for the Cubs to swap Castro, who would be the most sought-after trade chip in baseball if Chicago actually put him on the market. It wouldn't be out of the question for the Cubs to ask for not just two major prospects in exchange, but also for a team to take Alfonso Soriano's big contract (roughly $48MM remaining through 2014) off the Cubs' hands.