Cubs

Could Cubs, Mets Strike A Shortstop-Pitcher Deal?

Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro. (Brian Kersey/Getty Images)

Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro. (Brian Kersey/Getty Images)

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(CBS) It’s no secret here in Chicago that the Cubs covet a top-of-the-rotation starter, and out in New York it’s well-known that the Mets desire a quality young shortstop to build their future around.

So naturally, with the two teams tangling over the weekend and each possessing a surplus of talent at the position the other covets, there’s been a lot of speculation recently. Could the teams pull off a trade this offseason?

Many baseball folks believe it’s “practically inevitable” that the Cubs and Mets will make a deal this winter, the New York Daily News reported Sunday, because it would make all the sense in the world.

The Cubs boast three quality young players who have primarily played shortstop: major league starter Starlin Castro; the recently called-up Javier Baez, who has played second base in Chicago; and Addison Russell, who’s currently in Double-A and expected to be big league-ready sometime next season.

On the other side, the Mets boast a quartet of arms with top-of-the rotation potential: right-hander Zack Wheeler, who’s been solid in his second big league season; rookie right-hander Jacob DeGrom, who’s sparkled in his first season; right-hander Noah Syndergaard, who’s dominating in Triple-A; and left-hander Steven Matz, who’s in Double-A.

With so many talented options on each side, it would seem a deal could be worked out. If the Cubs demand Wheeler, deGrom, Syndergaard or Matz — which is likely because they want to make a splash, not land a No. 3 starter — the Mets will likely demand Russell in return, the Daily News reported, because he’s “regarded as a much better defensive shortstop than Castro and is expected to be at least as good with the bat.”

The Cubs have scouted Syndergaard “repeatedly,” according to the Daily News.

For the Cubs’ part, they have made no indications publicly they plan on moving Castro, Baez or Russell, though they’ve emphasized they want to acquire pitching in the next 18 to 24 months. Baez has played a respectable of second base since being called up to the big leagues, and Castro could conceivably move to third base if the Cubs shift top prospect Kris Bryant to the outfield. Of course, Castro’s value wouldn’t be as high at third base, where teams typically covet more of a power hitter. And Chicago could possibly play Baez at third base and fellow youngster Arismendy Alcantara at second base, too.

In other words, there are endless options here on both sides. We’ll have to wait until this winter for the fun to start.