Starlin Castro has been the Chicago Cubs‘ Opening Day shortstop for the last five seasons. However, over the last two weeks it appears that the torch has been passed to Addison Russell as Chicago’s new man up the middle. Castro is hitting under .240 this season and when the Cubs acquired Russell last summer the question seemingly was not if, but when he would ultimately overtake Castro for the position. Russell is magnificent with the glove and is continuing to develop at the plate in this second half. With Castro now regulated to a second base platoon with Chris Coghlan and Javier Baez looming, what exactly is next for the 25-year old?
If Castro remains in Chicago or if a new destination is on the horizon, he does not have to look far for a player that was once in a similar situation. With the Detroit Tigers in town, Ian Kinsler can relate to what Castro may be experiencing with a possible position change looming. Kinsler was a shortstop coming out of college and began his Texas Rangers‘ minor league career at the spot. He was also very nearly traded as well during his young Rangers’ career, but the deal ultimately fell through. With an organizational need at second base, Kinsler changed positions and developed into solid player at the spot. Now with the Tigers, Kinsler has turned into the table-setter for the Tigers’ offense. He continues to hit to all fields, provide pop, play everyday, and is still reliable with the glove.
Still developing, and still talented in his own right, Castro does have what it takes to be an All-Star caliber second baseman if that is what the Cubs or another team ask of him. He can still be that bat in the lineup that once led the league in hits in first full big-league season. Castro will just need to commit fully to whatever is asked of him and let is natural abilities shine. Playing with constant trade rumors cannot be easy, and it also cannot be lost that during his six-year career thus far, he has already played for five managers.
With the Cubs in a playoff chase, this will be an important final few months of the season for Castro to see if he can turn things around during meaningful games. In the offseason, a close eye will be on how the Cubs decide to handle their middle infield logjam. Just 25 and still in his prime, Starlin Castro can develop into an Ian Kinsler type role, but the onus is on him to make it happen.