In January of this year, the New York Times ran a story that said the Yankees are saving now for a potential free-agency splash next winter. The story highlighted hurlers Matt Cain of the Giants and Cole Hamel of the Phillies as potential targets for the pinstripes.
But could the Yankees be loading up the ole piggy bank for the heir apparent to Derek Jeter?
Could it be that the Bronx Bombers are eyeballing Starlin Castro, the sweet-swinging shortstop for an annually afflicted Chicago Cubs franchise?
At first this question seems preposterous, especially in light of how well Jeter has been playing thus far this season.
But looking big picture, a few things have occurred in the past month that points to the potential for Castro to eventually become a Yankee.
First, Castro is eligible for arbitration after the 2012 season. While the Cubs have signed Castro through 2012, new Cubs GM Theo Epstein has yet to commit to Castro long-term. Reasons for this vary, which will be highlighted in a moment.
Second, Castro’s at-times attention deficit at shortstop has sparked Chicago radio pundits to float the opinion balloon that Castro should move to the outfield.
To this, I say perfecto!
Andruw Jones will also become a free agent. And there is no guarantee the Yankees will re-sign him.
The Cubs could give Castro some serious on-the-job-training in right field. Castro could then learn the ins and outs of the position, en route to becoming the right fielder for the Yankees next season.
Once a Yankee, Castro would receive mentorship from Jeter on how to properly prepare to play shortstop every day for one of the greatest baseball teams in world history.
Who better for a young phenom like Castro to receive mentorship from?
Then when Jeter finally hangs the spikes up in a few campaigns, the Yankees can seamlessly slip Castro into Jeter’s position.
Castro and Cano.
Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?
Two .300-hitting ballplayers playing middle infield together in New York over the next decade.
Let daydreaming by Yankee fans out school and office windows begin.
Let collectors of skyrocketing Castro rookie cards and memorabilia feel like kids once again.
Starlin Castro will?
All right, all right; snap out of it!
Back to reality, we all know Mr. Epstein is much smarter than letting the Cubbies best player in years get away without receiving anything in return. After all, Epstein did not shrewdly transform the Red Sox into World Champions without some intelligent aggressiveness.
Barring insanity, Epstein will keep Castro at shortstop for now, amid a backdrop of taking trade offers from other ball clubs. Perhaps in time, Epstein will ship Castro out of Chicago as part of a mega deal.
What a great way for a struggling club to load up on young arms and bats, than to trade away a phenom like Castro to a contender. A phenom, by the way, who makes just $567K. In baseball, this is chump change.
And do not think for one hot second the Boston Red Sox do not have their scopes set on Castro, either. If Jose Iglesias’ bat does not join his spectacular defense at shortstop, Boston will also enter the Castro sweepstakes.
Then again, Epstein could just step in and sign Castro this summer, and thus make him the face of the Cubs for the next decade. Trade or sign, the opinion Castro becomes a New York Yankee will thus become null and void. And Castro could go on to become our generation’s Ernie Banks.
But as all baseball fans can attest, the Yankees have proven time and time again throughout their history, when they want someone, they usually go all-out to get them.
James is a huge baseball fan who loves to write and make new friends. You can follow James on Twitter by clicking HITHA!