Derek Jeter is retiring after the season, and that means the Yankees will need to find a new everyday shortstop. For the time being, they have Brendan Ryan signed for the 2015 season, but nobody really worth giving most of the playing time. Eduardo Nunez was suppose to be Jeter's replacement, but he was terribly inconsistent and is now playing for the Minnesota Twins with Phil Hughes.
The Yankees just finished up a two-game mini-series with the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley, and a lot of folks were pointing out the fact that the two starting pitchers the Yanks had to face, Jeff Samardjia and Jason Hammel, could end up in pinstripes by the end of July with the Yankees needing starters and the Cubs having some to deal
But besides the fact that I think Hammel makes more sense of the Yankees, and would probably cost less in a trade, I had my eye on a different player that isn't a pitcher, and likely won't be on the market this summer: shortstop Starlin Castro.
Castro makes sense for the Yankees in many ways, would would probably cost less than what the other expected soon-to-be free-agent shortstops might command on the open market, like Hanley Ramirez or Asdrubal Cabrera.
Castro is a young player. The Yankees need somebody that can not only be the shortstop for a couple of years, but for possibly the next decade. He turned just 24 in March, and still has a lot of time left ahead of him. Ramirez -- if he hits the market, which I don't he think he will; I believe he and the Dodgers will get an extension done -- will be 31 by Opening Day next season. Cabrera will turn 29 in November. And another possibly target, JJ Hardy, will turn 32 this August. Castro, easily, beats out all of the pending free-agents when it comes to youth. He's still got time to grow, and he also signed a new $60 million contract with the Cubs in 2012 that he'll be under until 2019, with a team option for 2020.
Something else, Al Leiter brought up a great point during the YES broadcast on Wednesday, mentioning that the problem with young players these days trying to become the next Derek Jeter is that nobody can be brought up with the winning success that Jeter had in his first five seasons, winning four World Series championships.
As for how that ties into Castro, he came up with the Cubs, who haven't been to the playoffs since 2008, let alone win a World Series since 1908. A lot of people like to complain and bring up the fact that Castro doesn't always give it 100 percent when he's on the field, and has benched several times for not hustling. But I think you can contribute that to the fact that he's not playing for a championship in Chicago. The Cubs don't go into the season with great expectations, which can definitely effect players.
Two prime examples would be guys -- one a former Cubs, the other a former Mariner -- that were acquired by the Yankees mid-season in recent years and succeed immediately. Alfonso Soriano hit 17 homeruns in 58 games with the Yankees last season, and only Giancarlo Stanton had more homerun than him during that span. Ichiro was hitting .261 when the Yankees picked him up in 2012. In his 67 games with the Bombers that season, he hit .322.
Being with the Yankees, being in a playoff race every year and actually playing for something has an impact on players, and it would turn Castro around.
And the thing for the Cubs, they can afford to move Castro in the near future with Javier Baez coming up through the system. Baez has a great bat, and would probably compete with Castro for the starting shortstop next spring if the Cubs don't have Baez change positions -- like second base, maybe.
The Yankees, unfortunately, don't have that talented prospect coming up through the system that will be ready to take the shortstop job next season. They'll have to go outside of the organization to find that option, and Castro makes a lot of sense.