Every morning, I wake up, check my messages, and look at my podcast app. I listen to a variety of baseball podcasts, including the Ivy Envy podcast of course. Last Friday I was looking through my podcast app and saw that Keith Law, ESPN prospect guru, was going to be on to talk with Buster Onley on the ESPN Baseball Tonight podcast. Onley opened the intro by saying Law was going to talk about a few prospects including Javier Baez and Kris Bryant. I immediately got excited and began listening to it.
About halfway through the section of Javier Baez’s season so far, Onley discussed an interesting theory. Now that Baez is on the brink of the majors, as we all know, and the Cubs current shortstop Starlin Castro either has to come back to his pre-2013 self or he might be on his way out, this brought an interesting trade proposal. Onley and Law discussed trading Castro to the New York Mets, who need a shortstop, for a young pitching prospect, which the Cubs have more bats than arms.
I found this so intriguing, so I went in depth looking at this. Lets say Castro continues this pace he is on this year, which is fantastic to see. He is hitting .300 with an OPS of .787 and an OPS+ of 106 through 12 games. Now, yes, this is a small sample size, but you can see Castro is a lot more comfortable at the plate through the early going of 2014. If Castro keeps this up throughout the year, I don’t see any reason to move him.
But if he struggles again and comes back to the tendencies that we saw in 2013, why not try to get a solid, young starting pitcher that has the ceiling of a 1 or 2? A name that was thrown out during the discussion is young Mets pitcher, Zack Wheeler. Wheeler has gotten off to a rough start to 2014. He has given up nine runs in only 17.1 innings, which equals to a 4.67 ERA. But if you look back to 2013, Wheeler was magnificent for a rookie. He started 17 games for the Mets compiling a 3.42 ERA while striking out 84 in only 100 innings.
If the Mets and Cubs were going to get involved in a trade discussion, this would be a solid deal for both teams. For the Cubs, Wheeler stabilizes the rotation and since he is only 23 and has less than a year of service time. He can be in the rotation for a long time and will be under team control through the Cubs “plan” years were all the prospects will finally get up to the big leagues. Also, trading Castro will open up shortstop for Javier Baez himself and keeps Arismendy Alcantara at second base for the future. For the Mets, Castro holds down the short stop position through 2020 on a team friendly deal.
Now, this is not a rumor and I’m not saying that the Cubs are going after Wheeler nor the Mets after Castro, but this is an interesting thought. It keeps you thinking that there are options if the Cubs infield becomes crowed when Baez, Alcantara, and Bryant join Castro, Barney, Olt, and Bonifacio. It’ll be interesting to see how this pans out over the next few months.