Baseball’s hot stove is in full swing as a second-base shuffle took place on Tuesday. The Chicago Cubs signed Ben Zobrist to a four-year deal and then promptly dealt their current second-baseman, Starlin Castro, to the New York Yankees. Here are the numbers behind what makes each player effective.
Zobrist will be right at home in Chicago
Zobrist has quietly been one of the game's best players since his first full season in 2009. His 39.3 Wins Above Replacement rank fifth among position players in that span, trailing the likes of Robinson Cano and Miguel Cabrera.
The Cubs brought in Zobrist to primarily play second base, which is an upgrade for a team that ranked in the bottom five in the National League in batting average, on-base percentage and strikeout percentage among second baseman in 2015. Zobrist has a .355 career on-base percentage, which would have been tied with Kyle Schwarber for third on the Cubs last season.
A move to Chicago reunites Zobrist with his former manager, Joe Maddon. Zobrist's 2006 rookie year was Maddon's first with the Tampa Bay Rays. Zobrist played for Joe Maddon for his entire career with the Rays franchise. Zobrist was traded in the offseason prior to the 2015 season, and Maddon left for Chicago in that same offseason.
Castro a much needed righty for Yanks
After signing Zobrist, the Cubs sent their longest-tenured player, Starlin Castro, to the Yankees. Castro was an All-Star in 2011 and 2012, but has hit .265 with an on-base percentage of .305 over the past three seasons.
Castro was moved to second base last season to make room for Addison Russell at shortstop, but Castro took to the new position quickly. All of his offensive numbers went up, and he was better defensively as well. He hit six homers in 419 at-bats at shortstop and five homers in 115 at-bats at second base.
The Cubs were 20-9 (.690) when Castro started at second base last season and they were 59-45 (.567) when he started at shortstop.
As for the Yankees, they used six different players at second base last season, and they combined to hit .223 to go along with -12 Defensive Runs Saved.
Castro also gives the Bronx Bombers a much-needed right-handed bat. The Yankees got the fewest plate appearances from right-handed hitters of any team in baseball last season (almost 400 fewer than the next team on the list).