Cubs nearing long-term extension with Starlin Castro

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7:00 p.m. EDT update: FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal believes a Starlin Castro extension could be announced early next week or sooner. It’d be a six- or seven-year contract with a club option that would buy out an extra year of free agency. As is, Castro will be eligible for FA after 2016.

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David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com has the exclusive:

Two industry sources who have represented several MLB players over the past decade confirmed to me tonight that the Cubs are working on a long term deal for star shortstop Starlin Castro.

The deal, which could be six or more years in length, is expected to be finalized before the end of the 2012 season and would not only buy out the remaining arbitration years that Castro has, but at least two years of free agency which he will reach after the 2016 season.

Castro has battled concentration issues, but the 22-year-old Dominican shortstop is the youngest player in franchise history to top 200 hits in a season (he finished with 207 in 2011) and continues to flash improving power potential. It’s hard to see this as anything but a positive for the rebuilding Northsiders.

Castro is batting .276/.307/.422 with 12 home runs and 58 RBI through 116 games played this season. As it stands currently, he will be eligible for arbitration this winter for the first time in his career.

Blue Jays, Josh Donaldson to table extension talks

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Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson are tabling extension talks as the two sides weren’t able to build any momentum towards agreement on a new contract.

Donaldson said, “We’re not quite there. That, to me, right now is not the major focus and I’m turning the page.” He added, “I want to play this season and really focus on winning games because, ultimately, our goal is to win a World Series and I don’t want to hinder that at all.” Donaldson also said he expects to hit free agency.

The 32-year-old avoided arbitration with the Blue Jays last month, agreeing on a $23 million salary for the 2018 season. He’s a free agent at season’s end. Last year, the three-time All-Star hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs, 78 RBI, and 65 runs scored in 496 plate appearances. Donaldson missed six weeks in the first half with a calf injury, but was able to return and post terrific numbers, so his health — at least that aspect of it — shouldn’t be a concern going into spring training.

If Donaldson does reach free agency, he’ll join a star-studded group that will likely also include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon, and A.J. Pollock.