Cubs Deal Starlin Castro to the Yankees

The other shoe dropped soon after the Cubs signed Ben Zobrist and created a logjam at second base — Starlin Castro is reportedly heading to New York for Brendan Ryan and Adam Warren. The deal, at its worst, is a way for the Cubs to spread some talent around at areas of need while giving the Yankees an average second baseman. Need for need.

The arm the Cubs are getting could change the calculus, though.

Manager Joe Maddon had nothing but praise for the way Castro handled himself after being moved to second base, talking about how professional the player was and how good he ended up being at turning the double play in his manager meeting on Tuesday at the winter meetings. “His lateral quickness looked better at second base, too,” said Maddon about the new Yankee second baseman, who put up his best defensive value in three years even after switching to the ‘easier’ position.

Brendan Ryan will give the Cubs a true glove-first backup at short, or anywhere on the infield, really. Though Javier Baez can play that role as well, his upside with the bat, as well as troubles tapping in to that upside, make him a high-variance play as a backup shortstop. Now the pressure is off Baez and the team can head north with Ryan as the backup shortstop.

Ostensibly, Warren will play the same role for the Cubs as he did for the Yankees — sopping up innings in a swing role, a sixth starter of sorts. But there’s a chance that the 28-year-old pushes Jason Hammel into that role instead. Warren actually has a larger arsenal.

With a rising (but straight) four-seam, a sinking two-seam, a good-movement changeup with a nice gap (9 mph), and two average breaking balls, Warren has the tools of a good starter. In a bit of a down year for Warren, in terms of whiffs at least, he still got average or better whiff rates on the fastballs, slider, and change. And the curveball gets 70% grounders. In some ways, he even has the look of a great pitcher.

If Warren unseats Hammel and becomes a 200-inning starter with whiffs and good command, the deal may swing back to the Cubs’ side. Even if he doesn’t, the Cubs got a good swing man and a backup middle infielder, at the cost of an average middle infielder on a good contract. That perspective probably favors the Yankees.





With a phone full of pictures of pitchers' fingers, strange beers, and his two toddler sons, Eno Sarris can be found at the ballpark or a brewery most days. Read him here, writing about the A's or Giants at The Athletic, or about beer at October. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris if you can handle the sandwiches and inanity.

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ScoKo
6 years ago

Not happy as a NYY fan. I think Ackley/Refsnyder can combine for what Castro likely brings. Really liked Warren. Thought he would get a legit look at the rotation this year.

Cool Lester Smooth
6 years ago
Reply to  ScoKo

Castro is 25 years old. He projects as an above average 2B. He put up a 117 wRC+ as a 24 year old, and a 109 wRC+ as a 22 year old.

Getting him for a 28 year old who they hope turns out to be a 4th starter is a deal the Yanks couldn’t turn down.

Steve
6 years ago

It never ceases to amaze how great your team’s players become as soon as they are traded.

Not a regular reader
6 years ago
Reply to  Steve

I’m *pretty* sure CLS is a Yankees fan…

Cool Lester Smooth
6 years ago
Reply to  Steve

He’s talking about the people bemoaning the loss of Adam Warren…who are likely the same people who were complaining about losing Murphy a couple of weeks ago.

jdbolick
6 years ago

CLS, you’re leaving out Castro’s 80 wRC+ last season and 74 wRC+ in 2013. Castro had the seventh worst soft contact rate in the major leagues last season while playing below average defense at second base and still being owed $38 million over the next four seasons. The Yankees can make this kind of deal because of their revenue stream, as they can make Castro a bench player if he continues to struggle, but you’re pretending like his star hasn’t dimmed considerably.

Cool Lester Smooth
6 years ago
Reply to  jdbolick

Oh, those seasons are the only reason a 25 year old MIF who put up a 117 wRC+ in 2014, 100 wRC+ in 2012 and 109 wRC+ in 2011 was available for a 4th starter and backup SS.

It’s definitely a buy-low, and a case of the Yankees using their financial muscles to absorb a lot of risk.

And that’s exactly what they should be doing.

Also, 250 innings of UZR data means less than nothing.

Brian
6 years ago

Okay, there’s some good logic to that. Counterpoint:

Castro was 21 when he put up that 109 wRC+. So he’s been above average offensively once in the last four years. He was exactly average once.

Saying that Adam Warren’s ceiling is that of 4th starter after his success in the rotation this season is questionable at best. When he got sent to the bullpen since his ERA was under 3.5

Like jdbolick said, Castro is making real money, and his age doesn’t mean the same thing it normally would, because his last 3 years have mostly been a disappointment.

Charles
6 years ago
Reply to  Brian

Castro is making 7 million next year and 9 the year after that. In ’18 and ’19 he is making 10 and 11 mil respectively but by then A-rod, CC, Beltran and Tex contracts will all be off the books. There is some risk that the improved defense he showed at 2B last year was just a flash in the pan but if his upside is a 2-3 win player. A small market team can’t make this gamble but the yanks can. By the time it would hurt them (the last 2 years) they’ll have a lot more money to play with, mitigating much of the loss. It’s the cheapest option for upgrading 2B without giving up prospects or a long term deal. Losing warren hurts but they decided they’d rather trade talent than spend more money on Zobrist or the like. I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to expect Castro to outperform Zobrist in the last 2 years of their deals; for less cash to boot.

Cool Lester Smooth
6 years ago
Reply to  Brian

His last 3 years have mostly been a disappointment…except for the time he had the best season of his career.

I love Adam Warren as much as anybody, but:

He is 28 years old.

He has 3.5 career WAR.

In 107 IP as a starter, he’s got a 3.98/4.20 ERA/FIP.

So, yeah. He’s a good reliever, and a guy you hope can be a 4th starter.

JimNYC
6 years ago
Reply to  Brian

The Yankees will not have money to play with in 2019. They’ve made no secret that they’re all-in on signing Bryce Harper when he hits free agency in 2018, and that would probably require a contract in the range of 10 years and $500 million.

ScoKo
6 years ago

I could care less how old he is, he has played in 1000 games and has actually gotten worse not better. His age means nothing to me.

Cool Lester Smooth
6 years ago
Reply to  ScoKo

1.8 WAR 99 wRC+
2.8 WAR 109 wRC+
3.1 WAR 100 wRC+
0.1 WAR 74 wRC+
2.8 WAR 117 wRC+
0.8 WAR 80 wRC+

So…yeah. He has, by no definition of those words “gotten worse not better.”

What’s he’s been is wildly fucking inconsistent.

…which is why the Yankees got him for a 4/5 and a backup SS.

JSJohnSmithAnon
6 years ago
Reply to  ScoKo

That is a negative trend CLS.

Cool Lester Smooth
6 years ago
Reply to  ScoKo

Except for the best season of his career in 2014 (he accrued the 2.8 WAR in 134 games, while his 3.1 WAR season had over 150).

dubinsky
6 years ago
Reply to  ScoKo

Warren wanted to be a starter…and the Yankees already have four right-handers better than Warren in the rotation …are seemingly still stuck with CC….and are looking for either a young lefty or an ace.

dubinsky
6 years ago
Reply to  ScoKo

could well be that the Yankees wanted to move Refsnyder (and very soon will)

and the team has a better middle infield prospect a year or two away in Jorge Mateo