The Cubs didn’t lose a tremendous amount of significant talent this offseason. A benefit the Cubs reap from their rebuild is having most of their major guys under club control for the next five or six seasons. The long-term approach almost ensures success for years to come.
Arguably the biggest change the Cubs made entering the 2016 season was trading Starlin Castro to the Yankees for Adam Warren. The trade was necessary in order to open second base for Ben Zobrist, and Castro’s inconsistencies didn’t seem to have a place on the Cubs for the future. It was a difficult move for the Cubs to make; Castro came up in 2010 and was the longest tenured Cub on the roster. He was there during all of the hard times, and finally got his taste of October last season.
Castro, who showed promise and consistency in 2014 before a rough injury ended his season prematurely, didn’t bounce back for a successful 2015. His first half was atrocious: Castro only slashed .247/.283/.321, resulting in a putrid wRAA of -14.6 and wRC+ of just 62. This, along with aloof defensive performances, saw Castro moving to the bench in early August.
He did bounce back to end his Cubs career on a high note. He hit an astounding .369/.400/.655 with five home runs in September and October, bringing his wRAA up to 9.4 and wRC+ up to 185 during that span. Castro’s two homer, six RBI game against the Cardinals at Wrigley Field on September 18 may have been the ultimate highlight of his Cubs career, and his tumultuous second half gave him the opportunity to be a contributor on his first winning team.
Unfortunately for Castro, Ben Zobrist provided the Cubs more versatility (and likely better overall performance) on defense along with a more powerful bat, and moving on is part of the nature of a winning culture. Fortunately for the front office, they were able to sell the Yankees on Castro’s second half and got them to pick up most of his remaining contract, while giving them Adam Warren in the process.
Starlin Castro gives the Yankees another talented bat with upside in the lineup and should make for an interesting double play combination with Didi Gregorius, but the Cubs came out the clear winners of the Castro/Warren deal.
The Cubs also waved goodbye to fan favorites Jonathan Herrera and Jason Motte, who provided little beyond replacement-level performance (though Motte showed periods of fine effectiveness) but were well liked for their general presence on the team. Pinch hitter/defensive replacement Chris Denorfia remains a free agent, though with the outfield makeup of Schwarber, Heyward and Soler with Coghlan as the fourth, it’s hard to imagine a place for ‘Norf on the roster.
2015 midseason additions Austin Jackson and Fernando Rodney, who put together harmless tenures in their short times with the Cubs, no longer appear to be returning. Rodney has signed with the Padres and Jackson remains a free agent, likely too valuable for the Cubs to bring back as a backup outfielder, especially with Coghlan and Baez on hand to assume those roles.
Starter/likeable guy Dan Haren is now enjoying his retirement, mostly on Twitter. Seriously, an account worth following for fun stories and banter at any given time.