JUPITER, Fla. -- As a veteran on an inexperienced club, Marlins second baseman Starlin Castro aims to set a positive example, while offering production and leadership.Still, being part of a team that's building has its challenges. The Marlins lost 98 games a year ago, and are again predicted to finish
JUPITER, Fla. -- As a veteran on an inexperienced club, Marlins second baseman Starlin Castro aims to set a positive example, while offering production and leadership.
Still, being part of a team that's building has its challenges. The Marlins lost 98 games a year ago, and are again predicted to finish last in the National League East.
In the offseason, the Marlins traded their best player, All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto, to the Phillies for catcher Jorge Alfaro, pitching prospects Sixto Sanchez and Will Stewart, and $250,000 of international pool money.
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Miami also added a pair of veterans in Neil Walker and outfielder Curtis Granderson to help provide experience.
"I'm just trying to take everything in a positive way," Castro said. "I come in here every day. I try to work every day and help the young guys we have here. I'm not trying to put anything negative in my mind. I'm coming in here ready to play."
It's the same mindset Castro had a year ago after being dealt to the Marlins from the Yankees in the Giancarlo Stanton trade.
"Starlin's been great," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "This is a guy who loves to play. Plays every day. He had a good year, honestly."
Castro, who turns 29 on March 29, had a solid first season with the Marlins, appearing in 154 games and slashing .278/.329/.400 with 12 home runs, 32 doubles and 54 RBIs.
"He's been around so long, I think we look at him as kind of older, but he's right in the prime of his career, age-wise," Mattingly said. "Really, we need him to be himself. He's a good example, with his routine. He gets his work in every day."
Where the Marlins are is similar to the Cubs' situation seven years ago.
Castro was with the Cubs in 2012-13 when they lost 101 and 96 games in those seasons, respectively, and he was traded to the Yankees after the '15 season. Chicago won the '16 World Series.
The Marlins were 63-98 in 2018.
"Sometimes, it's tough," Castro said about being part of a team that nearly lost 100 games. "But for me, that's the second time it happened. It's not that tough. I'm not going to [feel] any negative things. I'm just coming in here, doing my work. Trying to get healthy and play hard every day."
Castro is signed for $11 million in 2019, and his contract includes a $16 million club option for 2020 with a $1 million buyout.
The Marlins didn't receive much trade interest in Castro in the offseason due to his salary. But that could change by the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
Miami may have incentive to move Castro at the Deadline, especially if second-base prospect Isan Diaz keeps improving. Diaz, a left-handed hitter with power potential, played at Double-A Jacksonville and Triple-A New Orleans last season.
"It's an honor to be in a position where you can learn from such a veteran as Castro," Diaz said. "It's something that a lot of guys don't get an opportunity to have. With Castro, you can learn a lot from him. He's played with a lot of organizations. I think it's a good thing for me right now."
Until it reaches that point, Castro is ready to be the Marlins' regular second baseman.
"We have everything here moving in a good direction," he said. "We have a lot of young guys here that were here last year. I saw everybody is in great shape. Everybody is coming in here, working hard every day. This young talent is trying to help this team be a winning team."
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.