There’s already been a flurry of activity at the MLB Winter Meetings in Nashville this week, but Yankees GM Brian Cashman may have pulled off the shrewdest move of all.
Starlin Castro, a three-time All-Star at age 25, will be the Yankees’ new second baseman, and all it took to get him was righty Adam Warren and a player to be named later (reports say its 33-year-old backup infielder Brendan Ryan).
Castro had been pinched out of a starting spot with the Cubs, with Addison Russell taking over at shortstop during the season and Ben Zobrist signing this week to fill second base. Castro had been the subject of trade rumors for quite a while, and the Yankees were one of the teams pursuing him.
“We looked at him near the trading deadline last July,” Cashman said. “We couldn’t get anything done [when]...the Cubs moved him over to second base. He proved that was a really good setup for him.”
Castro is a career .281 hitter who’s averaged 11 home runs and 66 RBIs in six seasons in the majors. He’s also been durable, logging an average of 150 games a season. Castro represents a significant upgrade at second base over 2014 starter Stephen Drew, who did slug 17 home runs but struggled to hit .200. Dustin Ackley and Rob Refsnyder were slated to platoon at second base this season, but a golden opportunity came up for Cashman.
“We talked to the Cubs early, and we hashed out different ideas we had,” Cashman said. “This is the one…we settled on.”
Cashman continued, “We are excited on our end to get Castro. We think he will be an above-average defender at second base. He has a quality stick. He can play all the positions, giving us a lot of versatility, and hopefully performance.”
The Castro trade is another example of how the Yankees are rebuilding on the fly, acquiring young, high-quality players while staying in contention.
“We can’t rebuild here,” Yankees team president Randy Levine told Newsday, “That’s not what we’re about. We’re trying to win every year and we’re trying to get younger and transition.”
The Bombers may have shored up their starting nine, but they did get a little weaker pitching-wise by sending Warren to Chicago. He had been a serviceable starter when called upon due to the injuries of others, and gave the Yankees quality innings in relief. With left-handed reliever Justin Wilson departing for Detroit in a separate trade, Cashman will have to do something to strengthen either his bullpen or rotation to assure that the Yankees will contend this season.