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Starlin Castro And Jon Jay To Swap Teams At The Deadline?
It’s time for us at Off The Bench to rack our brains and come up with some good fake trades that make too much sense to not happen, invariably don’t happen, move us one step closer to our ultimate respective destinies as general managers because of the stupidity leading current front offices. A few days ago, Max suggested that Carl Crawford to the Pirates makes sense for all involved. With Matt Kemp again on the DL, that deal makes less sense, but still the table is set for an August waiver deal involving one of the Dodgers outfielders. Today’s trade proposal sends St. Louis Cardinal’s Center Fielder Jon Jay to the Chicago Cubs for shortstop Starlin Castro. Yeah.
The Deal: Cardinals send OF Jon Jay, SP Michael Wacha, 2B Kolten Wong, and SP Carlos Martinez to the Cubs for SS Starlin Castro, SP Travis Wood, and RP Kevin Gregg.
Now, a quick rundown on the guys you don’t really know before I justify why Starlin Castro is about to head to the Cardinals. Michael Wacha is the Cardinals top major league ready pitching prospect. He’s 21 and had a 2.21 ERA in the minor leagues, and has made three starts for the big league club to the tune of a 4-ish ERA. Kolten Wong is the Cardinals top position player prospect not named Oscar Tavares, but is expendable with the emergence of Matt Carpenter. Moving Wong entrusts third base to David Freese for the forseeable future. And Carlos Martinez is a flashy arm whose floor is a late inning relief guy, but Martinez continues to work as a starter.
Heading to St Louis are Starlin Castro, Travis Wood, and Kevin Gregg. Travis Wood may be the best of the three in terms of helping the Cardinals win now. He’s got a 2.69 ERA that is sure to grow as the summer heat escalates, but he’d be quite the fifth starter in St. Louis. Kevin Gregg adds to the Cardinals relief mix that has been effective, yet boring. But the most interesting piece in this deal is Starlin Castro.
The Cardinals do this deal because they need a shortstop and Castro has been historically good in his first few seasons at the major league level. His combination of position, age and performance in traditional offensive metrics made him a star before he was ready. Now, at age 23, he’s hitting .233/.267/.326 with 4 home runs and 7 steals which isn’t so bad for a 23 year old shortstop, except for the part where he’s owed roughly $75 million through 2019. Considering his .267 OBP puts him in company with Adeiny Heccevaria, Zack Cozart and Jeff Keppinger, there’s reason for concern.
Why do the Cardinals want Castro if he’s such a liability? It’s simple really. He’d likely improve around the cerebral hitters of the Cardinals and is signed to a relatively team friendly deal and is still just 23. And as bad as he’s been (by his standards or otherwise), Pete Kozma’s been worse. His line looks like this .234/.281/.297.
Now, lest you think I just threw this trade together, consider where it leaves the two franchises. First, the Cubs. They’ve got 3 of the top 20 prospects in baseball according to Baseball America. One of those guys, Javier Baez figures to be able to fill the whole left by Castro in time. The other two, Jorge Soler and Albert Almora will be able to advance more quickly manning the corner outfield spots. Additionally, Kolten Wong can replace Darwin Barney’s career .298 OBP at second base and Michael Wacha adds to the stable of Cubs starting pitching prospects. Finally, they also just drafted third baseman Kris Bryant and he might be the best of the group. With this trade, the Cubs are really well set up for the future, but may be putting a bit too much stock in their development system.
What do the Cardinals get out of the deal? First, they replace Jon Jay with Oscar Tavares, who has garnered a few Vlad Guerrero comparisons. They also replace Pete Kozma, he of the incredible reactions and little else, with Starlin Castro (note: they’re capable of paying Castro for the forseeable future with Chris Carpenter’s salary and Carlos Beltran’s coming off the books this winter). And are set up for a good run. Admittedly, losing their top two pitching prospects is less than ideal, but their organization would remain full of quality arms.
Finally, this trade is about spin. For the Cubs, they move toward the future by dumping their headache of a shortstop (who incidentally is underperforming) for a haul of prospects that makes the organization the envy of all other rebuilders. For the Cardinals, they acquire Starlin Castro for their center fielder with a .326 OBP and a bunch of prospects who were already blocked at the major league level.
Will this trade between long time rivals happen? Probably not. Should it? It’s at least worth a discussion between a Cubs fan and a Cardinals fan. I’m neither, so I’d love to hear how wrong I am.
Stat of the Day: The Cardinals are paying Ronnie Cedeno $247,000 to not play for them.