A lot of people got the vapors when they read the tweet below from Bob Nightengale, though it was less about Starlin Castro and more about Dexter Fowler’s passage through the waiver wire that had them worried.
The #Cubs still have not placed displaced SS Starlin Castro on waivers, but CF Dexter Fowler went through waivers, and cleared.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) August 19, 2015
Thing is, teams do this all the time, often with guys they fully intend on keeping around. Kind of a free way to gauge interest in a given player, particularly one who’ll be a free agent at the end of the season. Fowler checks a lot of boxes, so maybe the Cubs were trying to get a head start on their offseason strategy. Do they extend a qualifying offer and settle for the resultant compensatory pick his signing elsewhere will bring, or do they pony up what is sure to be a pretty hefty salary for a solid CF?
Ah, but this isn’t a post about Fowler. No, I’m more interested in the fact that Castro has not been placed on waivers…yet. I suppose it makes sense though when you look at his value, or lack thereof. Castro’s pedigree and relatively team-friendly contract mean he’s probably a sure thing to be claimed, but his awful performance this season means he’s also unlikely to bring back much in return. And with the eventual additions of middle infielders Javier Baez and Tommy La Stella, that value isn’t getting any higher.
Let me pause for just a moment here, as I realize not everyone has a good working knowledge of MLB’s waiver rules. I know most of my readers tend to know at least as much about baseball as I do, but it never hurts to brush up on the details.
If a team claims a player off waivers and has a viable claim as described above, his current team (the “waiving team”) may choose one of the following options:
- arrange a trade with the claiming team for that player within two business days of the claim; or
- rescind the request and keep the player on its major league roster, effectively canceling the waiver; or
- do nothing and allow the claiming team to assume the player’s existing contract, pay the waiving team a waiver fee, and place the player on its active major league roster.
Wouldn’t this make Castro a prime candidate for immediate liquidation then? The Cubs could waive him now and purge that salary, not to mention the roster spot, while possibly picking up a couple prospects in return. It would basically equate to declaring your car a lemon and simply parting it out for whatever cash the guy at the junkyard is willing to give you. But even after equating the guy to scrap, I’m still pretty torn on the whole Castro thing.
I want Starlin to do well and I believe he has it in him to recover at least some measure of the offensive prowess that has him 9th overall in hits since 2010 and 7th since 2011. However, I have serious doubts about his mental fortitude and I’ve come to believe that it’s going to take a bigger change of scenery than just what playing on the other side of second affords. Castro is worth very little right now, and it’s not very likely at this point that anything happens to significantly increase that value between now and, say, December.
Of course, any loss in the return on the Cubs’ displaced SS due to the arrival of reinforcements would be only incremental, so perhaps the front office thinks it best to sit back and let the situation play itself out. None of the other options to fill his role are sure things, so Castro is kind of a security blanket. And at this point in the season his remaining salary is pretty negligible, so maybe waiting a few months will allow rival GMs to sort of forget about his 2015 campaign.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out another little waiver nuance that’s likely at play here as well. You see, that second option above is a one-and-done deal; if you rescind a request and cancel the waiver, you can’t use that option again on the same player that season. Given the aforementioned likelihood of Castro being claimed, the Cubs probably aren’t ready to go into a do-or-die situation with him just yet.
So what do you think: Will the Cubs place Castro on waivers at some point this season? Are they just waiting for Baez and/or La Stella? The comments section is open for business; you know what to do.