The Chicago Cubs and shortstop Starlin Castro have agreed to terms on a seven-year contract that includes a club option for an eighth season in 2020. The contract covers Castro’s four arbitration seasons as well as his first three free agent seasons (club option for his fourth free agent season). Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Additionally, the contract at a minimum covers all of Castro’s playing time throughout the rest of his 20s, as the 22-year-old will not turn 30 until after completing the seventh season of this deal.
Already a two-time National League All-Star and the youngest All-Star in franchise history, Castro leads the National League with 486 hits since making his major league debut on May 7, 2010 at the age of 20. In 2011, Castro became the youngest player and the first 21-year-old in history to lead the National League in hits (207) and was only the 10th player in 111 years of the modern era (since 1900) to reach 200 hits in a season at the age of 21 or younger. His 346 hits in his first two big league seasons (2010-11) are a modern day franchise record.
Castro finished each of his first two seasons hitting .300 or better and begins today a career .296 hitter (486-for-1,644) with 206 runs scored, 85 doubles, 23 triples, 25 home runs and 53 stolen bases. With 35 games still to play in 2012, Castro has already set a career high with 12 home runs, has tied his career mark with nine triples, is three RBI shy of his career-best 66 from a season ago and has recorded his second-straight season with more than 20 stolen bases to go along with a .276 batting average (140-for-507).
A shortstop since his first day in the big leagues, Castro has seen improvement at the position since his rookie year, posting a .950 fielding percentage in 2010, a .961 fielding percentage in 2011 and a .966 fielding percentage in 2012 while leading all major league shortstops this year with 619 total chances. He has a .974 fielding percentage at shortstop since May 6, the sixth-best mark in the National League at the position in that span.
Castro is on pace to reach 500 career hits next month to become only the 28th player in major league history to reach 500 hits before the age of 23, joining the likes of Ted Williams, Hank Aaron, Al Kaline, Mickey Mantle, Jimmie Foxx, Robin Yount, Ty Cobb, Bobby Doerr, Johnny Bench, Orlando Cepeda, Ken Griffey, Jr. and Alex Rodriguez, the only active player, to accomplish this feat (thanks to Ed Hartig for his research assistance).
At 20-years-old and 44 days on the day of his major league debut in Cincinnati, Castro became the youngest player for the Cubs in more than 40 years, the youngest Cub to ever make his major league debut at shortstop and the third youngest player in major league history to hit a home run in his first major league at-bat, a three-run home run that along with a three-run triple set a major league record with six RBI in a big league debut.
Castro finished the 2010 campaign ranked 10th in the National League with a .300 batting average, the first Cubs rookie to rank in the top 10 at .300 or better since Bill Madlock in 1974. He followed his rookie season by hitting .307 (207-for-674) with 36 doubles, nine triples, 10 home runs and 66 RBI in 158 games last year, his first full big league campaign. He ranked sixth in the N.L. in batting average and closed the campaign by reaching base safely in his final 40 games, breaking the 82-year-old franchise mark by a shortstop (34-straight games by Woody English in 1929).
Originally signed by the Cubs as a non-drafted free agent on October 25, 2006, Castro reached Double-A Tennessee by the age of 19 in 2009 and earned his promotion straight from Double-A to the big leagues less than a year later.
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