Late on July 4, the Chicago Cubs traded pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the Oakland Athletics. In return, among other players, the Cubs received top shortstop prospect Addison Russell. The Cubs now have two-time All Star shortstop Starlin Castro, shortstop prospect Javier Baez, and Russell. The Cubs need young pitching. The Mets need to act.
The Cubs are clearly “all in” on their rebuilding plan, and have a plethora of position player prospects. However, they are short on young pitching, even more so now after their deal last night. Castro would fit the mold of the type of player the Cubs may want to move. He has high value, and can be replaced with internal candidates.
Castro is having a solid year. His triple slash is .290/.335/.472. He has 11 home runs and 50 RBI. Importantly, Castro is signed through 2019, with an option for 2020. He will not earn $10 million until the 2018 season, making his production well worth his salary.
Some have concerns about Castro’s defense (-5.3 UZR). However, many scouts say he is above average defensively. Castro is a career .283 hitter, who averages 11 home runs per season. He runs very well, though his stolen bases have trended downward since he stole 25 in 2012.
Which Mets pitching prospect would it take to land Castro? Naturally, any deal would be contingent upon the asking price. Noah Syndergaard would probably be too high of a price to pay. However, the Mets are rich in pitching prospects, and while it is always wise to hold onto them, there is an opportunity available to upgrade a position badly in need of such a move.
The Mets need to act now, not after the season. The longer the Cubs have their three shortstops, the more time other teams have to step in and drive the asking price up.
Sometimes market conditions warrant a change in plans. Going into action on July 4, Sandy Alderson talked about assessing the situation, and not making panic moves. Acquiring Castro would not be such a move. Castro can help the Mets this year, and for seasons to come. He is likely more available today than he was a week ago. As far as I’m concerned, Sandy and the Mets are on the clock.