If the Cubs want to make a major splash this winter, there would be no bigger move Theo Epstein could make then trading away Starlin Castro. The shortstop, who signed a seven year deal earlier this year, has been linked to trade rumors in which the Cubs would send away their one viable superstar to the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for outfielder Justin Upton. Much of the speculation is due to the development of Chicago prospect Javier Baez, who also plays shortstop and could take over for Castro if he is indeed shipped to the Diamondbacks.
Although these rumors are simply whispers right now, there is a chance things could begin to heat up as the offseason goes on. Upton would immediately become the Cubs best outfielder, coming off a season in which he batted .280 with 17 homers and 67 RBI. 2012 was a decline for Upton, as he belted 31 home runs in 2011. The Diamondbacks are currently shopping Upton to other suitors, especially the Texas Rangers who may need to replace Josh Hamilton if he decides to go elsewhere.
If the trade were to happen, Baez would not be ready to go right away for the Cubs, as he only made it to Single-A Dayton last season. Still, scouts and pretty much all of baseball sees Baez as a potential superstar, despite his struggles this season in the Arizona Fall League. The young player possesses a great deal of speed, which he showed when he stole home in the AFL, and he also has the potential to become a power hitter.
Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune says, "The more people see Baez, the more they like him."
Although Baez's primary position is at short, the Cubs have been trying to mold him into a third baseman, where he spent some of his time this fall. If Baez could learn a new position, the left side of the infield of Castro-Baez could be one of the best in the game within a few seasons. Or, they could let him take over for Castro and bring in Justin Upton.
While this rumor is in the very early stages, for now it seems like trading away Castro would be a mistake. For a young team without any identity, Castro is one of the cornerstones of the franchise, and an elite shortstop who has already been to two All-Star games. Besides, Upton is only under contract for three more seasons, much less than Castro's seven, and the outfielder has seen a decline in his production over the past few years.
At the time being, Castro for Upton does not make sense for Chicago.
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