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Yankees acquire Starlin Castro from Cubs

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The Yankees have themselves a new second baseman, acquiring Starlin Castro from the Cubs in exchange for right-hander Adam Warren and a player to be named.

Castro is coming off a disappointing age-25 campaign in which he hit .265/.296/.375 in 547 at-bats. He’s a career .281/.321/.404 hitter in 3,524 at-bats since debuting at age 20.

In return, the Cubs, who just landed Ben Zobrist to take over at second base, pick up a pretty useful piece in Warren, who had a 3.29 ERA in 17 starts and 26 relief appearances for the Yankees last season. He’ll most likely be in the pen initially, but his addition gives the Cubs four experienced rotation fallbacks, what with Travis WoodTrevor Cahill and Clayton Richard already on the roster.

According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports, the Cubs will not be picking up any of the $38 million that Castro is owed over the next four years.

Oddly enough, this trade comes together because of one that never did in July: the A’s sought to get Warren and second baseman Rob Refsnyder from the Yankees for Zobrist then. The Yankees turned them down, not wanting to trade Warren for two months of Zobrist. Now they are trading Warren for a player expendable because another team signed Zobrist.

UPDATE: The player to be named is reportedly veteran utilityman Brendan Ryan.

 

Evan Longoria: “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base.”

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The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.

Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.

Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”

Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.

The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.