Renewed and continued talk of the Nationals’ interest in trading for Kris Bryant has naturally led to a fair bit of discourse on the topic, some of which has actually come from beyond the four walls of Cubdom. MLB Network Radio’s Mike Ferrin and Jim Duquette discussed scenarios during their Power Alley show on Monday and came to some…interesting conclusions.
“If you do Bryant for Starlin Castro, does that line up?” Ferrin asked. “I mean, you save a little bit of money, you end up with a guy that can play second or third base. Obviously, they know Castro’s makeup, he was a very popular player in that clubhouse. Like, does that make sense? I mean, it’s not the same in terms of value, but like, is that the best you can kinda do?
“It feels like it, right?”
"If you did Bryant for Starlin Castro, does that line up?… It's not the same in terms of value, but is that the best you can do? It feels like it."@Mike_Ferrin | @Jim_Duquette pic.twitter.com/PGQzU3ASN5
— MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (@MLBNetworkRadio) November 30, 2020
Ferrin goes on to lament the Cubs’ unenviable position, one they put themselves in by failing to either extend or trade any of their core players, but the idea that Castro is the best they could do for Bryant just doesn’t hold water. In addition to his $6 million salary making the move less of an outright payroll dump than the Cubs would seemingly like to make, Castro has just one year remaining on his deal and doesn’t help the team either now or in the future.
Though he’s still a perfectly acceptable player in general and should remain so for years to come, Castro is a mediocre fielder and a league-average hitter who’ll turn 31 in March. That’s not a guy who threads the needle in any way, especially when there are in-house options at significantly lower cost. The Cubs would be better off accepting a marginal prospect and letting David Bote handle most of the hot corner duties, since that would at least save them some money.
Don’t get it twisted, settling for a lottery ticket would be embarrassing and Bote is not nearly an adequate replacement for a healthy Bryant over the course of a normal season. The point, however, is that being compelled to trade the former Rookie of the Year and MVP means the Cubs aren’t planning to get better in 2021. Unless you believe they’d try to turn the money saved on his final year of arbitration into a free agent or two.
But if that was the plan, trading for Castro eliminates a third of those salary savings and markedly decreases the tier of free agent(s) being targeted. In the end, it feels as though Ferrin was simply connecting dots because Castro is a former Cub with whom the Nationals would be willing to part in a deal. There might be a little smoke when it comes to the Bryant trade rumors, but the only fire in this case is coming from the take.