We aren’t even a full week into the MLB offseason yet, and the Pittsburgh Pirates have been involved in their fair share of rumors. We are still waiting on them to decide if they will give starting pitcher A.J. Burnett a qualifying offer, first baseman Kendrys Morales might be GM Neal Huntington‘s top free agent target, and now we have the rumor that the Pirates could be interested in trading for Chicago Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro.
Tom Loxas of ChicagoNow.com was the first to learn of the Pirates’ possible interest in Castro. Loxas tweeted that the Bucs, along with the St. Louis Cardinals, New York Mets and Miami Marlins, could be suitors for the shortstop’s services. If this would have been a rumor in past offseasons, I would be extremely excited about the possibility to Castro joining the Pirates. Now, however, I am not so sure if I would even want it to happen.
Castro, just 23-years-old, has legitimate personality questions and lacks effort at times. There have been a few occasions where it seems like he isn’t even paying attention while he is on the field.
To go with those mental questions, his on-field performance has been declining every year since his great 2011 campaign in which he hit .307/.341/.432 with a 109 wRC+. In 2012, his line dropped to .283/.323/.430 with a 98 wRC+. Last season, Castro hit just .245/.284/.347 with a 70 wRC+. For those of you who don’t already know, an average wRC+ is 100, so Castro has been below average offensively for two straight seasons.
Any team trading for Castro would have him until the 2019 season is over as he just signed a lengthy extension with the Cubbies. The contract also includes a team option for 2020. It sounds like the Cubs would be asking for a few top-100 prospects in a potential deal, including starting pitching. If the Pirates want to pull off a blockbuster trade for Castro, they certainly have the pitching prospects to make such a deal.
If it were up to me, I would avoid trading for Castro for a couple reasons. It would take a huge package sent to the Cubs to acquire the young shortstop, and his on-field struggles both mentally and physically worry me a bit. However, I wouldn’t blame the Pirates for trying to make a legitimate splash and try to take their team to the next level by acquiring the mega-talented Castro.