Starlin Castro, Marlins
I almost wrote about Josh Harrison instead of Castro after the maligned middle infielder stated that he wanted to be traded on Monday, but I still think Castro has a higher likelihood of being dealt given that the Marlins acquired him with the intention of flipping him in the first place. Also, Castro has also stated his desire to play for a contender, which might force the Marlins hand.
Unfortunately for Castro, there is a relatively limited number of teams in need of second baseman. Aside from the Yankees, (who dealt him earlier this offseason) the Mets look like the only match. While normally teams do not like to trade within the division, the Marlins are so deep into their rebuild that this likely won’t be a deterrent in swapping Castro.
With two more years remaining on his current deal and a club option for the 2021 season, Castro comes as more than just a rental. Castro also had his best offensive season since 2014 last season as the former shortstop posted a 110 wRC+. This number was inflated by an unsustainable .347 BABIP, but beggars can’t be choosers, and the Mets definitely fit the description of beggar given their options at second base right now.
Despite a miserable season in 2017, the Mets have shown they will be trying to contend with the recent signing of Jay Bruce. The team not only possess one of the most talented starting rotations in baseball when healthy, but a combination of proven bats in Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto as well as an infusion of youth in former top prospects Amed Rosario, Dominic Smith, and Brandon Nimmo. The Mets have already shown that they would prefer to add a second baseman through the trade market with their recent short-lived pursuit of Josh Harrison. The Pirates asking price in a deal for Harrison included Brandon Nimmo, which was a dealbreaker for the club. The Marlins would likely demand less in exchange for Castro, which could make this a perfect match.
Suitors: New York Yankees, New York Mets
Starlin Castro (2B)
Marcos Molina (RHP(#6 Prospect)
Luis Guillorme (SS) (#11 Prospect)
Headlining the prospect return for the Mets is Marcos Molina, a hard-throwing right-hander with a plus slider and command of three pitches. Molina regressed slightly last season after being called up to Double-A, but that is common as the jump from High-A to Double-A is often regarded as the biggest jump in the minor leagues. He was also coming back from Tommy John surgery and was still able to manage a respectable 3.92 ERA which bodes well for the youngster. His combination of stuff and polish give him the makings of a someone who could move fast through the minor leagues.
Shortstop prospect Luis Guillorme is the second piece in this deal. Guillorme is an elite fielder but has limited upside due to a complete lack of power (one home run in 1,300 minor league at-bats). Guillorme is coming of a career season at Double-A by hitting .283 with 70 runs and 72 walks, earning himself the Sterling Award, which is given to the Mets Double-A player of the year. Unfortunately for the fleet-footed web gem machine, his path to everyday at-bats in the big leagues is blocked for the foreseeable future with Amed Rosario locked in as the Mets shortstop of the future.
Some may think that giving up both Molina and Guillorme for Castro would further deplete an already lackluster farm system, and they are probably right. However, the Nationals could lose Bryce Harper, Gio Gonzalez, and Daniel Murphy in free agency next season, which would open the window for a team like the Mets to regain supremacy in the division. The time to act is now for the Mets and Castro is the most obvious second base option on the trade market.
Other Trade Candidates (2B):
Jason Kipnis (CLE)
Josh Harrison (PIT)
Cesar Hernandez (PHI)
Jed Lowrie (OAK)