Cubs Ink Zobrist, Trade Castro to Yankees

starlin_castro_1280_fmldygzj_gjb6hvq3The Chicago Cubs and Ben Zobrist agreed to terms on a 4 year, 56 million dollar contract.  In order to make room for Zobrist, the Cubs traded promising young talent Starlin Castro to the Yankees for second baseman Brendan Ryan and pitcher Adam Warren.

Zobrist was oft rumored to be headed to the Mets, who now must scramble to find an alternate solution.  Last season, Zobrist batted .276/.359/.450/.809 with 13 HR while splitting time in Oakland and Kansas City.

Zobrist seems to be coming full circle – a guy who was underpaid during his prime who is now set to be overpaid as he moves beyond it. At 34, Zobrist’s defense declined noticeably last season, according to the advanced stats. His 126 games played and his combined 1.9 WAR for the A’s and Royals were the lowest of his career since he became a regular in 2009.

In order to make room for the one time super-utility player, the Cubs traded 26 year old second baseman Starlin Castro to the Yankees.  Castro had a down season last year slashing .265/.296/.375/671 with 11 HR.  The Yankees are hoping that a change in scenery will help the once can’t miss prospect realize his full potential, as well as finally solidifying a position that has been in flux since Robinson Cano left for greener pastures.  Castro is owed 38 M through 2019, all of which the Yankees will be picking up.

Brendon Ryan who will be going to Chicago in the deal was once considered for the position of Derek Jeter’s replacement.  He’s a light hitting infielder known for his defense, who isn’t terribly great on defense and will likely fill a backup role for the Cubs.  Ryan slashed for .229/.275/.333/.608 with no HR in 96 AB last season

Adam Warren is expected to serve as a swing 5th rotation/bullpen role for the Cubs.

Warren is 13-15 with a 3.39 ERA in four big-league seasons, making 20 starts and 127 appearances out of the bullpen. The 28-year-old righthander has proven to be quite versatile, going 6-6 with a 3.66 ERA in 17 starts last season while posting a 2.29 ERA in 26 relief appearances.

ScoutsEdit, updated post to reflect that Zobrist spent time in Oak and KC last year, not Oak and TOR.  Thanks to NBJays for the assist.

27 thoughts on “Cubs Ink Zobrist, Trade Castro to Yankees

  1. Let’s start with a disclaimer. I have been a fan of Zobrist for a long time and I think he is a good person and a very good player.

    But the logic of this deal escapes me. The Cubs are loaded with young, cheap players on the infield, even after you move Bryant to LF. And the return on Castro, talent-wise, looks deficient.

    But they are probably good enough to survive this deai.


    1. While I’m happy Zobrist got the payday he deserved when he was in his late 20s, it doesn’t make sense.

      But you are right. The Cubs are good enough, and rich enough to survive this deal.

      I’m wondering if this is part of the Rays’ spiel when they talk a player into signing. “Come play for the Rays. You’ll get the paycheck you deserve someday…from someone else who will overpay.”


      1. You and I have shared thoughts on Zobrist before, Indy. It’s about time he got his payday. And I hope he earns most of it (all is unlikely).

        But it still just doesn’t seem to fit with what Chicago needs.


      2. Depending on your philosophical bent regarding baseball talent and how much its paid in the years before free agency vs after… you could say he’s already earned the paycheck on a personal level. If the Cubs get anything out of him near market value it’s just gravy.


    1. I doubt it.

      Not only did the Cubs get a capable, potentially strong, pitcher…they didn’t have to eat a penny of the $38M Castro is still guaranteed to get.

      For a guy that just put up a 0.8 fWAR season in a fully healthy year, that’s kind of a hell of a deal.


        1. I give not any shits about someone being an “all-star”.

          Jake Arrieta has never been an all-star. Do you think Castro is better than Arrieta?


        2. Previous to last season, I would say no, but it’s a invalid argument as they are not related. My point was that Castro has been good in the past and has the potential to be good in the future, and has a lot of upside. The Yankees seem to be optimistic he can return to that form. And while All-Star is by no means a perfect indicator of skill, a person selected three times usually is an indication of something good.


        3. Or it’s an indicator that he played on a bunch of shit teams and, by rule, every team has to have an all-star.

          I’m not trying to shit on Castro. I like him. The fans like him. His teammates loved him. I sincerely hope he succeeds in NY, which is weird for me…I can’t recall there ever being a player I wanted to see do well on the Yankees.

          But I’ve been watching him for literally his entire career, and I don’t see the upside you are talking about.


        4. I’m not really interested in debating the legitimacy of his all-star appearances, I was simply using that as a quick measure that he has had success in the past, which he clearly has, if you look at his stats, which I did not want to take the time to re-post here. Nit pick all you want. It’s not to say the Cubs did not make a good move, because they did, but so did the Yankees, and Castro is a player with a lot of potential. He’s shown flashes of greatness, and it’s possible a change in scenery will help him put it all together, and if he does, watch out. And if he didn’t, then the Yankees only gave up a backup utility player and a good bullpen swing arm, neither of which is the end of the world to them. Meanwhile, the Cubs got rid of some money they can spend else-ware and filled a few gaps. No need to argue for the sake of arguing, it’s not really worth it. You have your opinion, and I have mine.


        5. My whole point is that using all-star games as a measure of anything is flawed.

          There are sooooooooo many better ways to measure a player’s success…past, present, or future…and you can use those just as quickly as looking up someone’s all-star game history.

          If you want to dismiss that as “nit-picking”, go right ahead.


    2. While I like the back and forth between you and lefty, occams razor points to Theo wants to fuck the Red Sox. Not that I blame him and I truly wish he is involved in another legacy championship, just not a Cubs vs Red Sox world series, although if we lose I hope it goes seven and they are up by ten in the seventh so I can not have my soul crushed!

      Who am I kidding, I have no soul!


  2. “Last season, Zobrist batted .276/.359/.450/.809 with 13 HR while splitting time in Oakland and Toronto.”

    Wait… what? When did this happen? Not that I’d mind seeing him in a Jays uniform, but I’m thinking you meant to say Kansas City here, Scout…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My initial reaction to this sign-&-trade move was “unimpressed”. But I think I’ve kinda talked myself into being OK with it.

    The whole thing hinges on your feelings about Castro and his upside. It’s possible that the demotion and move to 2B lit a long-term fire under his ass and the Castro that put up a 185 wRC+ in September is fair representation of who he is now. It’s also possible that it was just a hot streak, something every player gets from time to time, and the 71 wRC+ he put up in June is more likely just who he’s usually going to be.

    But neither of those is true, because if Castro has proven anything in his career, it’s that you just don’t know what you are going to get…from month to month or year to year. His fWAR for each of the last four years — 3.1, 0.1, 2.8, 0.8. He would have been a perfect fit on the Giants, they are only good in even-numbered years too.

    Zobrist is old and will only ever get older…but if you see that he put up a 127 wRC+ after coming back from the DL last year, his oldness probably hasn’t ruined his bat yet. 4y/$56M is basically $14M a year, so he really only needs to average 2 WAR a year to make that work. If his bat is still as useful as it appears, he should earn the bulk of that in ’16 and ’17 without much of a sweat. Additionally, he’s the kind of hitter the Cubs don’t have many of…high-contact, low-strikeout…and that’s got real value. Put him in the leadoff spot and that .350 OBP will look very nice in front of the thumpers.

    Zobrist makes the Cubs better in 2016 and 2017. Probably 2018 too. 2019 could be a bit bleak, but his no-trade protection will be exhausted after the first three years and hopefully Gleyber will be ready by then.

    Oh yeah…Adam Warren. He’s got a live arm and I trust Chris Bosio to work some magic with him. There’s also this…

    …and if ZIPS is on board, so am I.


    1. That seems really optimistic for a pitcher that’s going to be 28/29 next season. I like this trade for both parties, and while Warren is a solid pitcher, I think Castro has the bigger delta.

      Of course fans of both teams don’t like it, which is usually a decent mark of a good trade.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s crazy optimistic. He’s just not going to be used in a way that will allow for such a high WAR. He’s likely going to be one of many 6th starters/multi-inning relievers, along with Wood/Cahill/Richard.

        I very much like having that kind of depth too. Lackey is old and could fall apart in an instant, Hendricks is still maturing, and Hammel just isn’t all that great period.

        Actually, keeping Castro and signing a FA pitcher to fill the role Warren will fill might have actually cost more than the $56.5M that Zobrist+Warren will cost. One more step towards maybe even being happy with this deal.


        1. I think that’s almost completely backwards.

          Castro is still young, true, but he’s been around a while. Nearly 900 games. 3700+ PA’s. His production is always tied to his BABIP, because he never walks. When his BABIP is high, he has a good year. When it’s not, he doesn’t.

          Warren is the relatively unknown player here. Not quite 300 IP in the bigs. Decent-ish K numbers (7.5 K/9) and an ability to generate groundballs (45%). This is where the upside is.


    2. But neither of those is true, because if Castro has proven anything in his career, it’s that you just don’t know what you are going to get

      So what you’re saying is that Castro is basically a box of chocolates.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Zobrist had his “welcome to the team” press conference today. Don’t these things usually take a couple days? All that pending physicals and such?

    I wonder how much time passed between this deal being “done” and when it was announced. I know they had to make sure the Castro trade was going to happen before actually signing Zobrist, but this makes it seem like the Mets and other teams trying to land Zobrist were never even really in it.

    Also, this…


    1. Because of MLB rules about debt and debt servicing and such, apparently the Cubs payroll limit to stay in compliance is around $135M. After yesterday’s moves, after arbitration, they are projected to be around $138M.

      I won’t worry about them being players for Heyward unless they unload Montero. Otherwise, I think they probably are looking more at a guy like Span to play CF….or just sticking Baez out there and see how that goes.


      1. Unloading Hammel’s $9M might be enough to make it happen, especially if they can pair him up with either Wood ($5.8M) or Coghlan ($2.5M). Indeed, if part of the appeal of the Zobrist/Castro maneuver was to get Warren at pre-arbitration prices with the intent of dumping Wood’s salary, then I’m still finding new reasons to like this whole thing.

        Hoyer today said that he sees Baez as another Zobrist-type. He can already play anywhere in the field…


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