As the youth movement continues for the New York Yankees, Starlin Castro can’t help but think about what forced him out of Chicago.
In his first three years in the show, he recorded more hits than any other National League infielder, finished 5th in the rookie of the year (2010) voting and earned two All-Star appearances (’11,’12).
Unfortunately for him, as he grew, his team would not finish with a winning record until 2015 — when the Chicago Cubs brought themselves back into pertinence.
At that time, however, Castro became expendable thanks solely to the Cubs’ epic youth movement that made the decision to trade him, and his long-term contract, to the Bombers for Adam Warren and Brendan Ryan much easier.
Why was it so easy?
The highly acclaimed project Addison Russell forced himself into the picture with a .295/.350/.508 slash line with 13 homers in 2014 and by 2015, he had forced Castro from shortstop to second before general manager Theo Epstein shipped him to the Bronx.
One year later, the Cubs clinched its first World Series championship since 1908 and Castro, with at least three years left on his contract, finds himself in a similar predicament with the Yankees.
Over the course of just one year, general manager Brian Cashman has managed to take his organization’s farm system to incredible heights.
Thanks to the oversupply of middle infield talent in the organization, a decision may have to be made on Castro’s future when a few prospects become major league ready.
Gleyber Torres, New York’s No. 2 prospect, is coming off an Arizona Fall League performance in which he finished with a .403 batting average en route to becoming the youngest player (at 20-years old) to win a batting title in the AFL. The shortstop also took home the MVP award and although he’ll be starting 2017 in Double-A Trenton, Torres is on a fast track to stardom.
The reason why Torres’ progress becomes a predicament for Castro’s situation is that with Didi Gregorius appearing to be the long-term answer at shortstop, New York is giving their second-best prospect time at second base.
People have speculated over a possible transition to third base for Castro, who has spent the commencement of his career on the left side of the infield, and it might be a shift he has to be prepared to make.
“I don’t really think about this,” Castro told Steven Marcus of Newsday. “I just try to do my job. I don’t have any control of this. Whatever they want to do, they have to do it.’’
With an MLB ETA of 2018 for Torres and a team-friendly contract associated with Castro, this feels like deja-vu all over again.
“That’s the second time it happened to me,’’ he also told Marcus. “That happened my last year in the Cubs. All the younger guys coming to the team. Here, the same thing.’’
Castro is set to make $9.857 this upcoming season, $10.857 in 2018, $11.857 in 2019 and has a $16 million team option with a $1 million buyout in 2020.
If he produces like he did a year ago, a year in which he became one of just four Yankees’ second baseman to hit 20 home runs in a single season, then that kind of contract will certainly produce a suitable trade partner.
Does he deserve it? Certainly not, but that’s baseball. Every rebuild has a player(s) that, unfortunately, must face the repercussions of that rebuild — and Castro is no alien to it.