Recently, the Oakland Athletics acquired Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Cubs in exchange for a couple of promising prospects and a player to be named later. For Chicago, the big haul in this deal was 20-year-old shortstop Addison Russell, regarded by many as an extraordinary defender with a good bat. Currently, Chicago is home to another 20-year-old shortstop by the name of Javier Baez who, along with Kris Bryant and now Russell, is considered to be one of the top prospects is the Cubs’ organization.
The depth of young shortstops in the Cubs’ organization does not stop with Russell and Baez, however. At the big league level, Chicago already has an All-Star shortstop in 24-year-old Starlin Castro. Through 87 games, the three-time All Star is hitting .284 with 11 HRs and 51 RBIs, and has consistently posted similar numbers since his rookie year in 2010.
Unless Chicago plans to force position changes upon two of their three young shortstops, Castro will likely be on the trade block to make room for Baez and Russell.
This is where the Padres come into play. Castro is a young player who will be under team control until 2020 after previously signing an eight-year, $60 million deal with the Cubs. This is an affordable deal even for a small-market club like San Diego, as they would be paying less than $8 million dollars a year for a proven All-Star shortstop.
Unfortunately for the Padres, Castro will not come cheap. The Cubs have shown that they are looking to stockpile young talent in their system, with eyes on a championship run in 2-3 years. San Diego would likely need to give up a pair of solid prospects to haul Castro in.
In exchange for Castro, the Padres should look to move Max Fried, a 20-year-old LHP considered to be possibly the best young arm in the club’s system. Fried was the club’s first-round pick in 2012 (seventh overall), and has shown promise despite an injury setback this year. To go along with Fried, the Padres should send either 24-year-old RHP Joe Wieland or another comparable prospect like 20-year-old RHP Zach Eflin to Chicago.
The Cubs would receive two young arms to add depth to their growing system, while also paving the way for Russell and Baez. The Padres would add the shortstop of their future, while also acquiring a proven bat they so desperately need.
With a new GM likely to be named in coming weeks, the next hire needs to get off on the right foot. Trade for Starlin Castro, and a dismal franchise will begin to head in the right direction.