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Shepkowski: Why Rush Starlin Castro Out Of Town?

By Nick Shepkowski--

(CBS) Late Tuesday morning, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported that the San Diego Padres were in the market for a shortstop. It makes sense, as they're a team that desperately lacks a good one with Alexi Amarista currently manning the position.

Almost immediately, rumors began swirling of the Padres being interested in Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro, with the likes of Nightengale and Will Carroll tweeting out the idea.

On paper, the idea makes sense. The Cubs have Addison Russell starting the season in Triple-A while sitting in the top five of nearly every MLB prospect list. Once Russell's up, he projects to be a star. In the world we live in, that immediately means some want to move on from Castro, for various reasons.

He doesn't have the power we thought would be now.

He's inconsistent on defense.

He zones out in the field.

I've been one to get frustrated with Castro at times, specifically the summer of 2013 when he hit .245 with a .284 on-base percentage and was too often ridiculed for not paying attention while in the field. With as long as Castro's been in the big leagues, it's easy to forget that he just turned 25 a couple weeks ago.

But for those who want to chase Castro out of town, let me pose some questions.

Who's the Cubs' future second baseman? Do you fully trust of what you've seen from Arismendy Alcantra? If Kris Bryant does ultimately have to play the outfield, who plays third base when this team is regularly contending?

I understand that if you move Castro away from shortstop, his offensive value drops just because there are so few quality hitting players at the position. But that doesn't mean there isn't a spot for him with questions still remaining at two infield positions.

Castro would still very much be a positive offensive player at second base, and in if heavy power is provided elsewhere (from Anthony Rizzo, Jorge Soler and Bryant), then Castro at third base averaging the 185 hits he has per 162 games looks stronger. Then imagine him hitting sixth or seventh instead of fourth like he did Opening Night, and the concerns aren't as great.

I've always been in the camp that anyone should be available at any point. That doesn't mean you're actively shopping them, but if someone is going to make you an offer that's too good to pass up, then you go ahead and execute the deal. That applies here for Castro.

Castro's deal has club control through 2020 and will pay him 11.8 million in 2019 before a team option kicks in for 2020. In other words, until that team option in 2020, it's still extremely team-friendly. If he's being shopped, the asking price only gets that much steeper because of that.

San Diego has two prospects that rank in's top 100 in its 2015 preseason rankings. Hunter Renfroe is a 23-year-old slugging outfielder from Mississippi State with great power potential, but he's had issues striking out. He came in at No. 49. Austin Hedges ranks No. 52 on the list and is the fourth-rated catcher on the list, just two spots behind current Cubs farmhand Kyle Schwarber.

I'm not going to pretend to know everything about either of the players, but unless the Cubs brass is extremely impressed with one of them, I'd have real trouble pulling the trigger on dealing Castro for one of those in return.

I know Cubs fans get frustrated with Castro because he's nothing special defensively and because his power has failed to develop quite like a lot had hoped. But when healthy, he's a valuable asset for any team, much the reason the all-in Padres may desire his services.

If a return like the Cubs received for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel is there, then sure, move forward. But I don't think that's happening. So don't count me among those who can't wait to get Castro on the next flight out of O'Hare.

Nick Shepkowski is a weekend host at 670 The Score and produces The Spiegel and Goff Show each weekday from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.  You can find all of his work here and follow him on Twitter @Shep670.

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