Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportesLosAngeles.com reported last weekend that the Cubs and Starlin Castro had reached an agreement on a long-term contract extension, but we’re still waiting on an official announcement. That should change soon.
According to Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago, the deal could be announced as soon as tomorrow. Castro’s agent, Paul Kinzer, was at Wrigley Field today presumably putting the finishing touches on the agreement.
Castro will reportedly be guaranteed $60 million over seven years while the contract includes a $16 million club option for 2020 or a $1 million buyout. The 22-year-old shortstop was projected to qualify for arbitration for the first time this winter as a Super Two player, so the extension will buy out all four of his arbitration seasons and at least his first three years of free agency.
Castro entered tonight’s action with a .296/.333/.421 batting line and a .755 OPS over his first three seasons in the big leagues. He’s still a bit raw and may find himself at another position by the time the contract expires, but Theo Epstein and company are banking on Castro to be one of the cornerstones that gets the Cubs back on the winning track.
UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com has the contract details. In addition to a $6 million signing bonus, Castro make $5 million in 2013 and 2014, $6 million in 2015, $7 million in 2016, $9 million in 2017, $10 million in 2018 and $11 million in 2019. If he wins the MVP or finishes in the top five of MVP balloting twice, salaries for 2019 and the 2020 option year will increase by $2 million. He’ll max out at $79 million if the option year is exercised and he meets all escalator benchmarks.
Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Pirates GM Neal Huntington is looking for outside outfield help in the wake of Starling Marte‘s 80-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. With Marte out of the picture, the club moved Andrew McCutchen back to center field and have played Adam Frazier, John Jaso, and Jose Osuna in right field. But, as Brink points out, Osuna and Jaso — neither an outfielder by trade — misplayed balls over the weekend against the Yankees.
Among available free agents, the pickings are slim. There’s Coco Crisp, Jeff Francoeur, Cole Gillespie, Kelly Johnson, and Nolan Reimold (who is currently in independent baseball). The Pirates may have to find themselves a trade partner. They could also try to talk Angel Pagan back into action, as the veteran outfielder recently said he’s taking the year off. The Pirates could also look at Leonys Martin, who was recently designated for assignment by the Mariners.
On Friday, tension between the Orioles and Red Sox rose when Manny Machado spiked Dustin Pedroia sliding into second base. Although the umpires found no fault with Machado’s slide, third base coach Brian Butterfield was later ejected, still feeling like Machado wronged the Red Sox. Pedroia exited the game and was not in the lineup on Saturday or Sunday. He’ll undergo an MRI for his left knee and ankle in Boston on Monday.
For what it’s worth, Pedroia didn’t seem to feel any bitterness towards Machado for his slide. As MLB.com’s Jeff Seidel reported, Pedroia said, “I don’t even know what the rule is. I’ve turned the best double play in the Major Leagues for 11 years. I don’t need a … rule. The rule’s irrelevant. The rule’s for people with bad footwork.”
Tempers flared between the Red Sox and Orioles again on Sunday. In the bottom of the eighth inning with a runner on first base and one out with the Red Sox leading 6-0, reliever Matt Barnes threw a first-pitch fastball up-and-in to Machado. The ball actually hit Machado’s bat, so it counted as a foul ball. Home plate umpire Andy Fletcher ejected Barnes and the Red Sox brought in Joe Kelly. Machado doubled on the first pitch Kelly threw to put the Orioles on the board, but the Orioles ultimately lost 6-2.
MASN’s broadcast later showed Pedroia talking to Machado, seemingly clarifying that Barnes acted of his own volition without encouragement from Pedroia. “You know that,” Pedroia appeared to say. “It wasn’t me. It’s them.”
Update: Pedroia even apologized to Machado and the Orioles, per Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal.
Commissioner Rob Manfred will likely look into Sunday’s incident. He could fine and/or suspend Barnes.
The Orioles and Red Sox meet again in Boston for a four-game series May 1-4. It will be interesting to see if the tension still remains then.