MLB: NLCS-New York Mets at Chicago Cubs

Yankees trade for Starlin Castro

The New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs agreed on a trade that will send infielder Starlin Castro to the Yankees Tuesday night, according to the team. In return, the Yankees sent right-handed pitcher Adam Warren and a player to be named later (though reports indicate that player is shortstop Brendan Ryan) to the Cubs.

All offseason long the Yankees have said that they are more likely to try to improve the team by making a trade rather than a big money free agent signing and so far they don’t appear to be bluffing. New York entered the Winter Meetings having already added outfielder Aaron Hicks from the Minnesota Twins in a trade and the club has avoided any signings beside adding Pete Kozma on a minor league contract.

Acquiring Castro ends anymore talk of the Yankees going with a platoon of Dustin Ackley and Rob Refsnyder at second base and possibly makes the latter available (yes, more trades). Castro, 25, fits the Yankees goal of getting younger and more athletic, but because of the extension he signed with Chicago he’s not exactly cheap. He’s owed $38 million over the next four seasons with a team option for $16 million in 2020 and with no money coming from Chicago in the deal the Yankees will absorb the entirety of the contract. His addition also shows the Yankees reluctance to actually go with a rookie starter like Refsnyder, who turns 25 before next season, as Castro is close in age but is entering his seventh major league season.

Castro is a career .281/.321/.404 hitter with a career .259 TAv. He’s made the all-star team three times in six seasons with the Cubs. Castro was very productive in his first three years in the majors, but has since struggled badly in two of the past three years. In his first three big league seasons, Castro provided 10.4 WARP compared to just 5.1 WARP in his last three seasons. On the bright side, at least Castro had a strong finish in 2015 as he hit .295/.319/.464 in the second half.

Castro was the Cubs regular shortstop for years until the arrival of Addison Russell. He started 29 games at second base for Chicago in 2015. His ability to play shortstop gives the Yankees options when putting together the roster for 2016 as his presence made carrying a backup shortstop like Brendan Ryan unnecessary and likely prompted his inclusion in the deal. Depending on how comfortable the Yankees are with Ackley’s infield defense, he could be the lone backup infielder on the Yankees bench.

The Yankees parted with Adam Warren and Brendan Ryan in the deal. With Warren projected to make $1.5 million in arbitration this year and Ryan locked into a $1 million salary, the Yankees are only adding about $5.3 million to their payroll given Castro’s $7.8 million salary for 2016. $5.3 million is less than what it took for the Detroit Tigers to acquire Francisco Rodriguez, Cameron Maybin, and Mike Pelfrey individually. So the Yankees were able to fill the biggest opening in their lineup without really taking on a major financial commitment.

On the other hand, the Yankees had to give up Warren, which couldn’t have been easy. Warren’s 2.4 WARP in 2015 was higher than Castro’s 1.5 number. He did a remarkable job of filling in wherever the Yankees needed him as he started 17 games and appeared in 43 total games with a 3.43 DRA. While the Yankees had said previously that Warren would enter Spring Training as a starter, without him the rotation includes Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, Nathan Eovaldi, Luis Severino, CC Sabathia, and Ivan Nova. Like Ryan, Warren was also very well liked in the Yankees clubhouse. Here’s what Alex Rodriguez said about Warren pitching in the playoffs this past season.

(Photo: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports)

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