It wasn’t long ago that New York Yankees fans dubbed Robinson Cano the future of the Yankees. That all changed when Cano hit free agency, and signed with the Seattle Mariners. All of the sudden, the Yankees were left with a huge hole up the middle. The big question was how were the Yankees planning on getting over Robinson Cano.
Over the next two years, the Yankees tried a couple of different options to fill Cano’s cleats. The first was Brian Roberts. He could hardly have been expected to live up to Cano’s bat and glove. Roberts barely made half-way through the season and hit just .237 with twenty-one RBI through ninety-one games. He was replaced by Stephen Drew, who had made a name for himself in Boston but had held out most of the 2014 season. The Yankees had high hope for Drew, but aside from a few key hits here and there, he was ultimately a let-down. The Yankees chose not to move forward with him at the end of the season leaving the second base position vacant for the second time in as many seasons.
This off-season, the Yankees took a path that many weren’t expecting. Instead of flexing their financial muscle to get a new second baseman, they traded for one. On December 8th, the Yankees agreed to trade Adam Warren and Brendan Ryan to the Chicago Cubs for Starlin Castro. The move was pure genius by general manager Brian Cashman, who gave up a pitcher who, though at times was very good, never lived up to his potential, and a middle-of-the-road shortstop.
The addition of Castro is a huge boost for a Yankees team that will look to make the playoffs again this year. The second baseman is entering his seventh season and has been an All Star in three of his six previous seasons in the league. Castro showed a lot of potential early in his career, but seemed to start a steady decline and lost stock with the Chicago Cubs.
We see it every few years: a player falls out of good favor with his team and gets traded, only to have a resurgence in his career for his new team. Some good examples are Jose Bautista and Chris Davis, who both became hitting machines for their new teams. If Starlin’s spring is any indication of what is to come, he is going to fall in line with those cases and have the Cubs wishing they held on to him. In ten games for the Yankees this spring, Castro is batting .444, has a .464 OBP, and has driven in nine runs. It would be insane to assume that he can keep that pace through the whole season, but maybe the change of scenery (even though he is still in pinstripes) will do him some good, and will make Castro the solution to the second base woes.
Castro also brings a fun and interesting defensive dynamic that complements Didi Gregorius. They are one of the youngest up-the-middle combos in all of baseball. They both have the potential to be in the top-five at their position, so it will be interesting to see how they mesh together. They will probably turn some insane double plays this season.
While it may take him a little time for him to get acclimated to the bright lights of New York, he will soon have Yankee fans saying, “Cano who?”. With a steadier front office and coaching staff to support him than he had in Chicago, Castro only has good things to look forward to in The Bronx.