Report: Cubs and Starlin Castro agree to seven-year, $60 million extension

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UPDATE: David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com hears that the deal is very close, but isn’t finalized yet.

3:22 PM: We’ve heard reports over the past couple of days that the Cubs and Starlin Castro were close to agreeing on a long-term contract extension. The deal is now in place.

According to Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes.com, the Cubs and Castro have agreed to a seven-year, $60 million extension with a $16 million club option for 2020.

Castro was projected to qualify for arbitration this winter as a Super Two player, so the deal covers all four years of arbitration eligibility and three years of free agency. He will be signed through his age-29 season.

Castro, 22, entered play this afternoon with a .297/.333/.422 batting line over his first three seasons in the big leagues. He continues to have his share of mental errors and his plate discipline, fielding and baserunning all have room for improvement, but Theo Epstein and company have sent a clear message that they consider their young shortstop an important building block.

Clayton Kershaw might return to the Dodgers’ rotation next week

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Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.

Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.

Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.