MILWAUKEE — When Cubs manager Joe Maddon told Starlin Castro he’s not about to get traded, it showed the All-Star shortstop’s value is in free fall.
It’s not like Maddon rewrote Castro’s contract — which has four years and $38 million guaranteed after this season — and gave him a no-trade clause. Castro does not have the job security of a Supreme Court justice, especially with Addison Russell playing next to him at second base.
Yes, the Cubs have tried to drum up interest in Castro, but it’s a hard sell when his .574 OPS ranks last among the 22 qualified big-league shortstops and WAR measures him as a negative player offensively and defensively.
Maddon wouldn’t have gone out on that limb — telling Castro to relax during a meeting in the manager’s office late Tuesday night, and then sharing the details during his media session on Wednesday morning at Wrigley Field — if he didn’t have some inside information.
Ideally, Maddon wants the same dugout/front-office synergy he once felt with the Tampa Bay Rays, and Cubs executives Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer ask for his opinions and try to keep him in the loop.
“This game is so fluid on a daily basis,” Maddon said Thursday at Miller Park, less than 24 hours before the non-waiver deadline. “What I said the other day — I meant it — he was not going to be traded. I have no idea if that’s going to happen. You never know that. If somebody just blows Theo away, obviously, you got to do something like that.”
The Cubs aren’t banking on that offer, knowing this would also be selling low on a player who’s already earned three All-Star selections and under contract for prime-age seasons (26, 27, 28, 29). The concentration issues — even if that part of Castro’s game has been blown out of proportion at times — couldn’t have helped the perception either.
“As of that particular moment,” Maddon said, “every piece of information I had received (said) he was not being traded.”
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Castro is mentally tough. Otherwise, he would have needed more than the 995 at-bats it took to rocket through the farm system and skip the Triple-A level. He played in 481 of the team’s 486 games between 2011 and 2013.
Castro is also a streaky hitter. He recovered from the down 2013 season that influenced the decision to fire Dale Sveum to become an All-Star again last year.
If Castro gets hot again, you know the Cubs will keep looking for deals.
“I’m not putting my head down,” Castro said. “I never give it away. Just (stay) positive and keep trying. Like I say all the time: My swing doesn’t go away. It’s still there. I feel healthy. I’ve been through this before. I know how it feels. There’s still two months left in the season. I think I can finish strong.”