It was easy to look past the Starlin Castro trade to the New York Yankees.
After all, it's been a crazy offseason for the Cubs, with signing three major free agents - including veteran Ben Zobrist, announced right before the Castro trade.
But Castro's departure deserves more attention than it's gotten, and the former Cubs franchise cornerstone helped his own case with a vulnerable open letter to Chicago for the Players' Tribune.
It's interesting that Castro spoke to Chicago through Derek Jeter's website, just a few years after he was being marketed alongside Jeter on billboards around Chicagoland.
Castro started by talking about his MLB debut and moved on to showing gratitude to the fans, admitting he "will never be able to thank them enough."
He also, of course, thanked the Cubs organization and the people he experienced in the organization, giving Alfonso Soriano a shout-out for teaching him how to act like a professional.
Then Castro got into the lowest point of his Cubs career - being benched at shortstop in August of this past season.
He was more candid and vulnerable and it was fantastic:
As for this past season: Getting replaced at shortstop was a struggle for me at first. Change is never easy — especially when it is a change away from something you took pride in. But I also took pride in the fact that I was not going to be one of those players who lost his spot and then brought the team down with him. I knew that I had been taught — by veterans like Alfonso, and other great leaders in the Cubs organization — to be better than that.
And the pride I felt about my own job had a lot to do with the pride I felt about what we were building as a team. I was a Cub when we lost 101 games in 2012. I played in every one of those games; I lived those 101 losses. For us to finally start winning was very satisfying to me. It didn’t matter if I was at shortstop, or second base, or watching from the bench. I would have been proud no matter what.
But at the same time, as an athlete, you want to play. You always want to play. So when I was given the opportunity to win the job at second base, I took it seriously. I worked hard. I made adjustments. I tried to treat it like a new beginning. And it paid off: After losing the shortstop job in August, I hit .426 in September at second base. Out of all of my accomplishments as a Cub, that is the one I hope people talk about when they look back on my career: That in a situation where some players would have checked out, I kept my head up and work even harder. I didn’t just say, “I want to help the team win.” I actually helped the team win.
How do you not respect a guy like that?
After mentioning how the Yankees - and players like Carlos Beltran and icon Reggie Jackson - have welcomed him to New York, Castro ended his open letter perfectly:
To my new city, New York, I can promise you this: You are acquiring a player who just got to experience a pennant race for the first time — and loved it.
And to my old city, Chicago, I want to thank you for such an amazing experience. I’ll always hold Chicago close to my heart. And hey — maybe I’ll still visit sometime.
The Cubs responded on Facebook shortly after Castro's article was posted:
Thank you, Starlin.