Yanks acquire Castro from Cubs for Warren, player to be named
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — In another move to get younger and balance their batting order, the New York Yankees acquired infielder Starlin Castro from the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday night for pitcher Adam Warren and a player to be named.
The 25-year-old Castro hit .265 with 11 homers and 69 RBI last season, when he batted .281 against left-handers. A right-handed hitter, he has spent most of his career at shortstop, but moved to second base in mid-August to make room for rookie Addison Russell.
"He really looked like a different player over at second," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said.
Castro thought he adjusted quickly.
"The first two games that I played there, I felt a little bit weird," he said Wednesday. "After playing three or four games there, I think I felt pretty good."
Castro was benched from the starting lineup for a week by Cubs manager Joe Maddon, then hit .353 from Aug. 14 through the end of the regular season. Castro said his family told him to "trust my talent."
"It was a really tough moment for me," Castro said. "That moment made me grow up more."
In the past year, the Yankees also acquired Didi Gregorius (25), Dustin Ackley (26) and Aaron Hicks (26). Looking for their first World Series title since 2009, the Yankees missed the playoffs for two straight years, then lost to Houston in this year’s Wild Card Game.
"It hasn’t and isn’t part of our DNA to accept that full-blown commitment to a rebuild," Cashman said. "I think the ownership’s comfort level is walking that tightrope rather than tear down and live to fight another day. The public stated goal is to get younger and compete for the championship every year."
Earlier in the day, the Cubs agreed to a four-year, $56 million contract with free-agent infielder Ben Zobrist, who figures to take over at second. New York had been discussing a trade for Castro since last summer.
Castro, who lives near the Yankees’ spring training complex in Tampa, Florida, is guaranteed $38 million over the remainder of his contract, which is guaranteed through 2019 and includes a club option for 2020.
He hit .300 as a rookie in 2010 and led the NL with 207 hits the following year. But he batted just .265 during the last three seasons as the Cubs shed veterans and restocked.
"All of a sudden you’re hitting three-hole. He probably put a lot of pressure on himself and got out of his comfort zone a little bit," said Yankees special assistant Jim Hendry, the Cubs’ former general manager.
The 28-year-old Warren went 7-7 with a 3.29 ERA last season in 17 starts and 26 relief appearances. He is eligible for salary arbitration for the first time and can become a free agent after the 2018 World Series.
"He was a tremendous person, great guy in the clubhouse," Cashman said. "The evaluation comes down to the 130 games or more from the everyday position player."
The player to be named is thought to be shortstop Brendan Ryan.
With the deal, the Yankees have seven starting pitching options: Masahiro Tanaka, Luis Severino, CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda, Nathan Eovaldi, Ivan Nova and Bryan Mitchell.
New York has discussed a trade with Miami for Jose Fernandez, but the Yankees are reluctant to give up Severino or their other top prospects, Greg Bird and Aaron Judge.
"Getting younger, cheap — if it checks off a lot of the boxes, you can assume that we checked in on it," Cashman said. "If it’s old and expensive, then more likely we didn’t check in on that."
New York wasn’t interested in top-level free agent pitchers such as Zack Greinke, partly because of the luxury tax.
"Whatever these contracts are going off the board at, the $200 million-level or whatever it is, add 50 percent markup on that to us," Cashman said.
Cashman also said the Yankees never tried to sign Zobrist.
"With our stated goal and his age and the four years, that would fly against what we’re trying to accomplish," he said. "We’re hopefully doing what we say and saying what we mean, meaning what we say — whatever."