This isn’t the time for Cubs to commit to Starlin Castro

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Word came down from CSNChicago.com’s David Kaplan last night that the Cubs were working on a long-term deal with Starlin Castro said to be for six years or more.

A six-year extension running from 2013-18 would buy out all of Castro’s arbitration seasons and his first two-years of free agency. One would imagine it’d come in somewhere in the $45 million-$50 million range (Andrew McCutchen had the same amount of service time when he got $51.5 million for six years this spring), and even at that lofty price tag, there’s a good chance it’d save the Cubs some money in the long run.

I still don’t think it’s the right move, not when Castro still hasn’t come close to making the most of his talent.

The fact that Castro has yet to become a star at age 22 isn’t damning in itself. But the lack of development is. Castro’s walk rate is down and his strikeout rate is up this year. He’s hitting just .276 after coming in at .300 and .307 in his first two seasons. His homers are up, but his doubles are way down. He’s still a lousy basestealer for all of his speed. His defense has improved, and he’s cut back on the mental errors in the field, but he still makes more than most.

The last thing the Cubs need is a complacent Castro. They need him motivated to become the very best player he can be, and handing him $45 million now seems a pretty lousy way to accomplish that.

Maybe I’m wrong. Perhaps Castro can get his money and still turn into a star anyway. If so, the Cubs might stand to save $10 million per year in 2017 and ’18 by locking him into such a deal now.

The Cubs, though, shouldn’t be worrying too much about their 2017-18 payrolls just yet. I think it’d make more sense to see what happens over the next year. If Castro improves, then it may well cost the team an extra $10 million-$20 million to get an extension done with him then. But at least they’ll have a better idea what they’re paying for.

Giants acquire Michael Reed from Twins

Michael Reed
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The Giants made several roster moves on Saturday, most notably acquiring Twins outfielder Michael Reed in exchange for outfielder John Andreoli and cash considerations. The swap allowed the Twins to clear some space on their 40-man roster for more pitching depth, while the Giants designated lefty reliever Steven Okert for assignment in order to make room for Reed.

Reed, 26, split the majority of his 2018 season at Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett, where he hit a combined .342/.453/.520 with 11 home runs, 10 stolen bases (in 13 chances), and a .972 OPS across 404 plate appearances. He made the most of his brief appearance with the Braves, going 2-for-7 with a pair of base hits and three strikeouts, but still has yet to see more than eight games in the majors in any season to date.

Andreoli, 28, debuted with the Mariners in 2018. While he made a decent showing in Triple-A Tacoma, slashing .287/.397/.401 with three homers and a .798 OPS, he struggled to stay above the Mendoza Line in back-to-back MLB stints with Seattle and Baltimore.

In an additional move on Saturday, the Giants also acquired outfielder Mike Yastrzemski in a trade with the Orioles. Both Reed and Yastrzemski will give the club some much-needed center field depth after they released veteran outfielder Cameron Maybin on Friday.