Article and Poll Weighing in on the Castro conundrum Cubs Den

Article and Poll: Weighing in on the Castro conundrum

By John Arguello. September 11, 2014 at 5:54 pm

I have been talking to our old friend Kevin on and off for weeks now about a Starlin Castro trade and what that might entail.  Nothing monumental, just casual talk as any of us Cubs fans do from time to time.  I also have had conversations with others on the same subject and one thing is becoming clear — and that there is no clear answer.  There is just no way around it — it is not a comfortable situation no matter how you slice it.  Like it or not, the Cubs are getting to a point where they will have to start making difficult decisions.

One of those decisions is what to do with the shortstop situation that currently has 3 players with all-star ability/potential.  They are, of course, Starlin Castro, Javier Baez, and Addison Russell.  The biggest conundrum involves incumbent Starlin Castro.

Here is what I think.

IF the Cubs trade Castro, then they absolutely have to do it in such a way that it improves the roster for 2015 .

Here is what else I think.

That will be extremely difficult to do.

Kevin has been saying for some time now, both to me personally and here in the comments section, that he believes Castro has more worth to the Cubs than he does to other teams right now.  If that is true, then that kind of deal would seem almost impossible.

We would all like the Cubs to recoup surplus value in any deal they make, but that isn’t always possible.  The alternatives in that scenario are as follows:

  • Do you try and recoup equal MLB value?  
  • Do you try to gain surplus by making it a more risky trade involving prospects?
  • Do you abandon the idea altogether and move their current pieces around to fit, knowing they’re all athletes and should be able to adapt — and perhaps even make a stellar infield defense between the 3 of them?

There really is no easy choice here.

In the first scenario, you are basically moving furniture around, albeit very talented furniture.  Is that something you do with a team that hasn’t even fully established where the pieces fit best yet?  In a roster that still has a good amount of uncertainty, are you adding or subtracting to that uncertainty if you start exchanging players before you’ve had a chance to fully evaluate?  Do you plug one hole and potentially create another one if Baez and Russell don’t work out?  Or worse, what if the player you receive doesn’t pan out?  Unless you are confident that Baez and/or Russell can plug the gap, then I am not sure you make this kind of deal yet.  But then again, we don’t know exactly how the Cubs feel about their talent internally.

I don’t like the second scenario at all because it represents a step backward for the mere possibility to take a bigger step forward at some point in the future.  To use a cliche, this is the bird in the hand vs. the two in the bush scenario.  I’d be more inclined to try this type of trade with Baez, but that only brings up even more questions because nobody really knows what Baez is yet.

The third scenario is the safe choice because you are guaranteed having three talented players and an extra year to evaluate them all.  The potential issue is if you fear some sort of regression from one of the players.  In that case the risk becomes the risk of lost opportunity.  Young cost, controlled shortstops have tremendous value and theoretically it should bring enough back to plug multiple holes.  Theoretically.  But what if it’s true that other teams don’t value Castro as highly?  Or what if the uncertainty created by the gap between Baez’s ceiling and floor tempers his value, then do you take that risk?  Do you trade the highly coveted Russell before even spending a full season to evaluate him?

The only real answer for now is to wait out the market and listen to anyone and everyone.  You cannot leave any stoned unturned when it comes to improving the team’s roster.  If that means trading one of the shortstops, then so be it, and if it’s Castro then I think the Cubs absolutely have to get a player or players back that makes the team better in both the short and long term.

But like I said, that won’t be easy.

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