Starlin Castro is leaving the only team he ever played for, the Chicago Cubs, to head to the Bronx. In exchange for the 25-year-old, three-time All-Star, the New York Yankees will send relief pitcher Adam Warren back to Chicago along with a player to be named later. Castro had been linked to the Yankees in trade rumors earlier this offseason, and was heavily rumored to be on the move most of the 2015 season.
Castro had become expendable in Chicago on the heels of the Cubs’ signing of Ben Zobrist. At this point of his career, Zobrist prefers to play second. The mercurial Castro lost his starting job at shortstop in August, but was able to reclaim a starting job at second base down the stretch and into the postseason. The six-year veteran slumped most of the year, but was able to bring his batting average back up to .265 by the end of the year while hitting 11 home runs and driving in 69.
Warren is a 28-year-old right-hander who has split time in the bullpen and rotation. Over his four-year career, Warren has appeared in 147 games, starting 20 of them. He has also recorded five saves. The University of North Carolina product has a 3.39 ERA in 289.1 big-league innings. Warren has struck out 245 for his career and has mostly been able to limit walks and home runs. During the 2015 season, Warren made 17 starts, and pitched to a 3.66 ERA over 96.0 innings. He is very good, surprisingly, against left-handed hitters, allowing just a .217 batting average last year, and a .236 batting average for his entire career.
Dealing an All-Star infielder for a middle reliever/number-five starter may not seem like a win for the Cubs, but it is. The deal is absolutely a win for the Yankees. Chicago needed to move Castro to make room for Ben Zobrist. Adding Zobrist makes it clear the Chicago front office is looking to add a little more leadership and veteran presence to a very young roster. Getting Zobrist back together with Joe Maddon is a big step in the right direction, but Castro had to go following the signing. Warren should be a nice bullpen arm for the Cubs, a playoff team can never have too much of that valuable commodity.
Castro’s trade value obviously had declined significantly if he went from being included in Cole Hamels talks to being swapped for Adam Warren. Early in Castro’s career, he was perceived as a star thanks to how terrible the Cubs were. The team locked him up to a big extension, and he really has not lived up to it. Castro is a good, not great player. Finding someone willing to take that money off their hands was the most important part of getting a deal done. With Castro shipped out, the Cubs are able to essentially add Zobrist at very little net cost. The front office is left with ample cash to pursue a Jason Heyward or Alex Gordon to fill out the outfield.
As for the Yankees, they receive a long-term answer at second base who may blossom with some of the limelight removed. Castro’s defense at shortstop is clearly no longer up to par, and his bat does not offset the below-average glove. In Yankees Stadium, Castro could begin seeing an uptick in home runs. Regardless, he will easily outpace the .223/.279/.403 line put up by New York second basemen last season. Castro is still young, and is on a relatively cheap contract given his past production. The Yankees now have a proven asset at second base instead of having to pray and hope that Rob Refsnyder can be the answer for the future.
While on paper the trade seems like a blowout victory for the Yankees, the Cubs also accomplished some important things with this move. For different reasons, the trade is a win for both sides. How often can you say that about a Major League Baseball trade?