Report: Yankees discussing a Brett Gardner-for-Starlin Castro deal
For the last four seasons, the Mets have been trying to figure out how to fill the void vacated by Jose Reyes when he left to sign a multi-year deal with the Marlins following the 2011 season.
They have explored free agents such as Stephen Drew and Jhonny Peralta, and explored acquiring Troy Tulowitzki in a trade the Rockies, his former club.
But the Mets have never been able to plug the whole to their own satisfaction, despite trying to improve upon the patchwork solutions they’ve employed with Wilmer Flores, Ruben Tejada, and Omar Quintanilla in those years since Reyes departed.
The Mets are once again endeavoring to find a solution to their below average answers at the position, exploring players in both free agency and trade, according to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York.
But one player which has often been tied to the Mets over the last couple of years could be headed elsewhere if a deal gets completed.
Mark Feinsand of the Daily News reports the Yankees and Cubs are in talks for a trade involving Starlin Castro and Brett Gardner.
2015 was hardly a good year for Castro, as he posted a .671 OPS while hitting just .265/.296/.375 with 23 doubles, two triples, 11 home runs and 69 RBI in 151 games with the Cubs. At one point during the season, Castro found himself on the bench for his poor play.
His .671 OPS was 12th best among qualified shortstops in baseball, his OBP was below league average and his slugging percentage was precisely league average among big league shortstops in 2015.
Castro did have a much better second half in 2015, posting a .295/.319/.464 line, and generally he was about league average defensively in 2015.
Castro moved from shortstop to second base to accommodate Addison Russell mid-year, and as was the case at shortstop, he was competent enough with an average performance at that position.
But Castro been mostly enigmatic in his young career, as the Cubs have been forced to deal with attitude problems and lackluster play from their young infielder. On the other hand, Castro has the 29th most hits over the last three years with 462 and he has 991 hits in 3764 plate appearances in his first six big league seasons.
So, the talent is unquestionably there – it’s just a matter of Castro putting it all together physically and mentally.
Castro is the logical player for Theo Epstein to deal, as he’s the most expensive among his talented crop of infielders and his performance can certainly be questioned, especially as it pertains to his value in terms of his current contract. Castro contracted to earn $7.8 million in 2016, $9.8 million in 2017, $10.8 million in 2018, $11.8 million in 2019, and either $16 million through a team option in 2020 with a $1 million buyout.
But it’s not really clear how interested the Mets have been in Castro anyway, presumably because of his performance and value. Team sources have indicated they prefer Russell or Javier Baez, and a year ago the Mets seemed willing to deal one of their young starting pitchers to acquire one of the Cubs infielders.
Now, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Sandy Alderson has been clear publicly he does not want to deal from his crop of young starting pitching. And while assistant GM John Ricco hasn’t ruled out the possibility of dealing Zack Wheeler under the right circumstances, he was not enough in the past to net what the Mets wanted from he Cubs by himself, whether it’s Castro or another player.
And if Chicago ends up dealing Castro to the Yankees or another club, they are in a better position to hold on to their other infielders and sign the pitching they need in free agency right now.