Prior to Tuesday night Starlin Castro had played every inning of his Cubs career at shortstop, spanning six seasons and 7,400 innings. And then, in the sixth inning, manager Joe Maddon summoned Castro from his spot on the bench–where he’s been since last Friday–and brought him into the game at second base.
Castro played four innings there and afterward Maddon told reporters that it would be his primary position going forward, meaning rookie Addison Russell is now the Cubs’ starting shortstop after playing second base all season.
The move speaks to how much the Cubs like Russell long term, believing he has a chance to be an All-Star caliber shortstop who’s a plus offensively and defensively, but it also shows just how far Castro’s stock has fallen in Chicago. And elsewhere, too, because if the Cubs could have traded Castro and the remaining $40 million on his contract for anything of value last month they likely would have done so.
Castro showed a ton of promise early in his career, hitting .300 as a 20-year-old rookie and making the All-Star team three times by age 24, but he’s been awful this season with a .235 batting average and .574 OPS and in general has shown very little improvement in any key aspect of his game. And the Cubs have several good prospects capable of playing second base, including Javier Baez, so the position switch may be a temporary one for Castro before a permanent switch to a new team.