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Castro says he wants to remain with Cubs

By Fred Mitchell, Chicago Tribune –

CINCINNATI — Starlin Castro said he wants to be with the Cubs his entire career and Theo Epstein is intent on retaining the club’s young core.

After word surfaced that Castro’s agent has been involved in conversations with management about a long-term contract, the Cubs’ president told reporters Friday night that “the agent has come out and said it on the record. I’m not going to lie to you guys, now that it’s out there … not that I would ordinarily lie to you.”

Castro appeared energized about the possibility of a new deal.

“I want to be on this team for a long time,” Castro said before the series opener against the Reds at Great American Ball Park. “I don’t pay attention to (contract talks) right now. My agent (Paul Kinzer) is talking with the team. I just think about playing baseball. I mean, I want to, but I don’t pay attention right now. Let my agent work and see how far he has (advanced in the talks) or how close he is. It is going to be good for me.”

The Reds’ Joey Votto agreed to a 10-year, $225 million deal earlier this year. Several other teams have been buying out the potential arbitration years of their young stars.

Castro is being paid $567,000 this season after making $440,000 last year. He would be eligible for arbitration in 2013 and could become a free agent in 2017 without a new deal.

Castro entered the game hitting .276 with 12 homers and 58 RBIs.

Kinzer said he originally planned to wait until the end of the season before negotiating a new contract .

“That was my intent, but the Cubs pursued it and Castro wanted to do it, so I work for the players,” Kinzer said. “If it’s a good deal, it’s usually a win-win, or both sides feel like they are getting everything they want. So this definitely falls in there.”

A possible deal of six or more years would take care of Castro’s remaining arbitration years and at least two years of free agency.

“(The Cubs) want to wrap up their core of young guys, I’m sure,” Kinzer said. “So this is the guy they started with.”

Castro became the Cubs’ youngest All-Star last season but has been criticized for his frequent mental mistakes defensively and on the basepaths.

“Most people forget the kid is 22-years-old,” Kinzer said. “Most of the hot young rookies coming up are older than he is. By the end of this season, he should have 500 (career) hits and he doesn’t turn 23 until the end of next spring training.”

Kinzer said contract talks regarding Castro are progressing but he hesitates to put a timetable on when a deal could be finalized.

“Hopefully this will help him relax and secure his and his family’s future,” Kinzer said.

Castro said he loves the city of Chicago and wants the young nucleus of the club to stick together.

“You want to be a good team for the future; that’s why I want to be on this team,” he said. “We are going to be good to win games, playoffs and that kind of stuff. I want to be there. It’s very important. Everybody like me, (Darwin) Barney, (Anthony) Rizzo … we want to keep those guys together for the future.”

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