Yankees solidify second base with Cubs' Castro
New York gives up Warren, player to be named for infielder, who's signed through 2019
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Yankees connected on another young position player Tuesday, upgrading at second base by acquiring Starlin Castro from the Cubs in exchange for right-hander Adam Warren and a player to be named.
New York and Chicago completed their swap immediately following news of the Cubs' signing of free agent Ben Zobrist, who agreed to a four-year, $56 million deal on Tuesday evening. The player to be named is expected to be infielder Brendan Ryan.
Castro will turn 26 in March and was moved from shortstop to second base this past summer. The Yankees liked what they saw and envision Castro forming a double-play combination with Didi Gregorius, while also offering the flexibility to fill in at shortstop and third base.
"He really looked like a different player over at second," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. "I like that he's athletic, I like his age. Between the youth, the flexibility, the right-handed bat, he's got a history of hitting left-handers. Clearly that's an area that we needed to better improve our balance in the lineup. It kind of checks off a lot of the boxes here."
Castro batted .265 (145-for-547) with 52 runs, 23 doubles, 11 home runs and 69 RBIs in 151 games this past season. He follows Gregorius, infielder Dustin Ackley and outfielder Aaron Hicks as position players that the Yanks have obtained in the past two years, prioritizing youth and flexibility while still attempting to contend.
"It isn't part of our DNA to accept that full-blown commitment to a rebuild," Cashman said. "Ownership's comfort level is walking that tightrope, rather than tearing it down and living to fight another day. The public stated goal is to get younger and compete for the championship every year. That's what we're trying to do."
The Yankees have been linked to Castro at various times over the past several weeks. Cashman revealed that he tried to obtain Castro at the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline without success, then renewed those discussions with Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein when the Winter Meetings began in Nashville.
"[Epstein] made me aware that it might be tied to something else, that he'd do this if he could do something else," Cashman said. "His something else, which was Zobrist, took longer."
Castro is owed $38 million through the 2019 season, and the Yanks will assume the entire remainder of that deal, which pays the infielder $7 million in '16. Because of that relatively modest increase, plus the subtractions of the trade, Cashman said there is no need to shed further salary.
"His increase for this year is worth it, and it's somewhat offset by some money that's coming off in the deal," Cashman said.
In 891 games over six Major League seasons from 2010-15 -- all with the Cubs -- Castro has batted .281 with 391 runs, 186 doubles, 31 triples, 62 homers and 363 RBIs.
"He's a very talented guy offensively," said assistant general manager Jim Hendry. "I think we all think his better days are ahead of him. History will tell you, a guy 26 to 32, he's got a chance to be his most productive. Very athletic kid, first-class kid. And I think he'll fit in great."
The move comes at the price of Warren, a fourth-round Draft pick of the Yankees in 2009 who was 7-7 with a 3.29 ERA in 43 games (17 starts) in 2015.
"We'll miss Adam, but you have to give to get," Cashman said. "I don't like robbing Peter to pay Paul. I had to do it last year with Shane Greene to get Didi. The evaluation comes down to the 130 games or more from an everyday position player versus the value I was giving up in Warren."
The Yankees continue to be in the market for starting pitching help, as well as additional arms to fill out their bullpen. Cashman said that he has been more active on the trade front than with free agents.
"Hopefully I can do some things to add to the depth," Cashman said.
Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB)
A .300 hitter in each of his first two seasons (2010-11), the infielder was unable to post a .300 on-base percentage in two of the past three campaigns. But let's look on the bright side, as Castro could benefit a great deal from a fresh start with the Yankees. Playing half of his games at the homer-happy ballpark in the Bronx, the 25-year-old could exceed 15 roundtrippers for the first time in his career. And if given the chance to run the bases aggressively, the former 25-steal speedster could post a swipes tally in the mid-teens. Rob Refsnyder, who held fantasy sleeper value as a potential second-base candidate prior to this deal, will now be hard-pressed to carve out a major role with New York's American League club in '16.