By Scott Barzilla

The Chicago Cubs made a huge investment in their future by agreeing with Starlin Castro on an seven year contract that guarantees him 60 million dollars. The contract includes an option on 2020 that could be worth 16 million dollars. It includes a guaranteed buyout of one million dollars should the Cubs not want to give him the 16 million. All told, the contract averages close to 8.5 million a season for the first seven years of the deal.

The move is an important one as it marks the first major contract that the new regime has agreed to. Essentially, they are saying that Castro is one of the players they want to build around moving forward. It was important for Castro to show some progress offensively and defensively and he certainly has done that.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . UZR. . . . . .BR

  • 2010. . . . . . . . . . .-2.1. . . . . ..-0.6
  • 2011. . . . . . . . . . .-8.7. . . . . ..9.3
  • 2012. . . . . . . . . . ..3.3. . . . . ..-2.6

Overall, he has been about the same player he was last season in terms of value, but the gains he has made with the glove are very encouraging. He has been swinging a better bat lately, so this season could still work out well in his favor. The implication is pretty clear from the past two seasons. When you include base running, Castro is perhaps an average shortstop overall. Paying an average shortstop eight million dollars is not bad and this assumes no further growth on the part of Castro.

Some might look at his numbers and wonder how in the world he could be considered average or worse. Essentially, he is the same hitter he has been in seasons past if not a little bit better. The difference has all come on batting average on balls in play (BABIP). He put up BABIPs of .344 and .346 in his first two seasons, but has a .309 mark this year. .309 is more in line with the league average, so we are seeing the real Castro.

He has increased his power and might end up north of 15 home runs and 25 stolen bases. He should also reach career highs in runs and RBIs. So, it isn’t necessarily a negative that Castro is being rated worse. He is showing a baseline of performance that is easily sustainable into the future. If he can learn to draw some more walks he could legitimately become a star. Low OBPs have torpedoed his value up to this point.

Scott Barzilla

Scott Barzilla is the editor in chief at hardballchat.com. He is also the author of four books, including The Hall of Fame Index. The Hall of Fame Index was nominated for the Sporting News Award for statistical innovation in 2011.

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