Starlin Castro came to us following a set of seasons where the Yankees were dreadful at second base. If it wasn’t Stephen Drew hitting below .200 for almost his entire tenure as a Yankee, it was the defensive liability of Rob Refsnyder. The Yankees were able to salvage Refsnyder’s hot bat by finding other places in the field and in the lineup for him to play, but Drew was sent packing and rightfully so. The Yankees acquired Castro in a trade last year from the Cubs in a trade, but some are asking whether or not the Yankees should turn around and put him out there for offers.
Even though Castro was a huge step up from Drew, let’s not kid ourselves. He is not an All-Star or even in the conversation. No matter how you look at him, except for his salary, he runs about middle of the pack. Second basemen are hard to find, so you cannot blame the Yankees for acquiring him for the dollars they are paying. Still, if they found someone better, they could shop him around. That, however, is a big if.
The way the free agent market is shaping up, you ‘re not going to find a good second baseman at a reasonable price. Chase Utley made $7M in 2016 and will likely make more with his postseason experience. At age 38, he is also an injury liability, and we already have enough of those. His 2016 WAR of 2.0 compared to Castro’s 1.1 makes it hardly an upgrade. Neil Walker had a WAR of 3.7, but taking on a salary comparable to his 2016 salary of $10.55M would be going in the wrong direction for the Yankees.
Then there’s the trading block. The Yankees could probably get something good for him. But getting another (better) second baseman would be a stretch. If they do not get another second baseman, the Yankees also have absolutely no one in their system to take his place. The best option right now would be Ronald Torreyes. He is an exciting player to watch, but the Yankees would be rolling the dice if they made him the starting everyday second baseman. The best minor league prospects in the farm system are at least a few years away, assuming they ever pan out.
So while it might be tempting to think about a second base upgrade, the options just aren’t there. Besides, Castro has been pulling his weight, doing a good job with the bat (.270 Avg, 21 HR, 70 RBI) and a decent job in the field (Fielding pct .980, where the league average for second basemen is .983). There has also been no drama with him, getting his work done, and trying to help the Yankees improve. This one’s a keeper.