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    Fantasy Baseball: Starlin Castro and the Musical Positions Game

    Chris Mitchell July 9, 2014 8:04PM EDT
    The blockbuster trade between the Cubs and A’s has created what a lot of analysts are calling “nice problems to have if you’re a Cubs fan,” and to some degree that is true. For the prospects involved, the trade has dusted up the playing field and created confusion about when they might make it to “The Show,” as well as what position they might play when they get there. For the most part, the results should be positive and for those situations where there could be negative consequences the damage should be minimal.The issue now is to figure out who to shift and to where and then find a way to maximize the trade value of the rest of a talented group of hitters. It will be fascinating to watch and see what Theo Epstein and the Cubs organization do because it will have a Fantasy impact on the prospects involved.

    What the Cubs do with Starlin Castro will determine the Fantasy futures of the Cubs strong prospect crop

    What the Cubs do with Starlin Castro will determine the Fantasy futures of their strong prospect crop. Photo Credit: Dan Dobish

    Dan Straily SP Cubs:

    Getting a fresh start in the NL, with a new organization that has a rotation spot sitting there for the taking, increases his Fantasy value more than any prospect in this trade. He also has the opportunity to avoid becoming a middle reliever/swing man, which would have been the end of any chance at Fantasy relevance. At this stage in Straily’s career he is a good player to stash but not a “must-have” Fantasy player by any means.  He still needs to produce to take advantage of the opportunity.

    Impact: Significantly improved.

    Addison Russell SS Cubs

    Russell is a true shortstop, and while his rise to the majors could be delayed by half a season or so now that he’s with Chicago, he should be producing for Fantasy owners by this time next season. Russell will benefit from playing in Wrigley Field versus the spacious confines of the O.co Coliseum. He is an elite talent who won’t change positions regardless of the change in laundry.

    Impact: Slightly improved.

    Kris Bryant 3B/OF Cubs

    Up until this trade, Bryant probably would have stayed at third base for at least three or four seasons in Chicago, but that is very much up for debate now. With Russell slotted in as Chicago’s shortstop of the future, the rumors of Starling Castro’s potential move to third base become much more realistic, which means that Bryant could be moving to the outfield. Bryant’s bat will play no matter where he uses the glove, but with third base getting thinner and thinner across Fantasy baseball, he would be a lot more valuable at the hot corner. Castro could be a third baseman next season but he is also a trade candidate, and both circumstances would have different implications for Bryant owners. Keep an eye on the Starlin Castro rumor mill.

    Impact: Leaning Negative

    Starlin Castro SS Cubs

    Castro’s status has been a shaky over the last couple of seasons, but 2014 has been a bounce back season for the current shortstop; he was batting .286 with 11 home runs before the trade. The Cubs would be wise to maximize his value by trading him rather than shift him to third base. A move to third base would hurt his Fantasy value to the point that it could make him a potential free agent rather than a Top 10-12 shortstop. Unless he is traded to a perfect situation then most of the potential scenarios for Castro’s Fantasy future are negative.

    Impact: Negative

    Javier Baez SS/2B/3B/OF Cubs

    The general consensus has been that Baez would be the Cubs second baseman with Castro at shortstop and Bryant at third base beginning at some point in 2015. This trade makes second base a significantly more likely destination for Baez. But it also creates a somewhat unlikely scenario in which Baez moves to third base, removing SS from the equation altogether. His bat plays regardless of where he plays in the field, but a move to third base or even the outfield would have a slightly negative impact on Baez’ Fantasy value.

    Baez’s bat should be plenty to return the elite young pitching in a trade that analysts thought a Samardzija deal would bring to Chicago. That possibility can’t be discounted but it is extremely unlikely. Middle infielders with 40 HR power don’t get traded very often and it would be an industry shocker if it were to happen.

    Impact: Neutral

    Arismendy Alcantara 2B Cubs

    Alcantara was the odd man out in the Cubs infield before this trade, but there was a chance that Baez might stay at SS or move to third base with Kris Bryant moving to leftfield, which would open up at bats at the top of a very talented young offensive lineup for Alcantara at second base.  Musical positions to say the least but plausible because of the offensive talent and defensive ability that Alcantara brings to the diamond every day. Alcantara is a 15-20 home run, 25-30 steals true Fantasy middle infielder.

    At-bats in the majors were far from guaranteed before this trade but are almost impossible to see now. Arismendy is in Triple-A, but a trade could result in major league at bats quickly. However, we don’t know where he will go or if he will go at all.  If he is traded it seems likely that that change would be a positive one, but if he doesn’t get traded then the acquisition of Russell hinders almost any chance of Alcantara getting to the majors with the Cubs barring a major injury.

    Impact: Coin flip. Could be positive or negative.

    Kyle Schwarber CA/1B/OF Cubs

    Scouts are mixed on whether Schwarber, a catcher in college, can make the defensive transition to professional ball or if a move to the outfield or first base is necessary. His bat profiles reasonably well at first base or left field but it would make him an elite Fantasy catcher.

    The more crowded the Cubs infield gets the more likely it is that Kris Bryant has to move to left field. However, the Cubs outfield is just as crowded as their infield. This trade makes it look more and more likely that Schwarber will have nowhere else to play if he’s a disaster behind the dish. Schwarber’s bat will be ready as soon as June of 2015. Unless the Cubs make multiple high profile trades (which might have to include Anthony Rizzo to open up 1B for Schwarber which is extremely unlikely) then Fantasy owners may luck into a situation where a big bat destined for 1B or OF could be mashing home runs at catcher. Think of a left-handed version of Evan Gattis circa 2014 in Wrigley field. Schwarber owners could be the biggest beneficiaries of this trade if the musical positions game falls just right.

    Impact: Positive with a chance at being great for Fantasy owners.

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