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.

Dustin Pedroia suffers a “significant setback” in his recovery

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Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe reports that Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia has suffered “a significant setback” with his left knee, making his availability for spring training questionable. Abraham says that Pedroia is “discussing his options with his family, agents, and the Sox.”

Pedroia underwent “knee joint preservation” surgery last year, which is often used as an alternative to full knee replacement. As it was, he played in only three games in 2018 and appeared in just six games in 2019, accruing just three hits in 34 plate appearances.

In light of the severity of his injury, the severity of his surgery and all of the time he’s missed over the past few years, it was already something of a long shot for Pedroia play again as it was. Indeed, he himself was not even sure if he’d play again when asked at one point last season. But this sounds positively dire.