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Cubs closing in on seven-year, $60 million deal with Starlin Castro

Chicago Cubs v Cincinnati Reds

Chicago Cubs v Cincinnati Reds

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Updated: September 20, 2012 10:29AM

CINCINNATI — They don’t have a pitching staff for next season, but the Cubs are on the verge of securing a face of the franchise for the rest of the decade.

In what will be the Theo Epstein-led front office’s biggest financial commitment to date, the Cubs are close to finalizing a seven-year,
$60 million contract extension with All-Star shortstop Starlin Castro.

ESPN Deportes reported Satur-
day an agreement had been reached for those terms. Neither side
denied the details of the report, but both sides said a deal hadn’t been completed.

After the Cubs lost the opener of a doubleheader Saturday to the Cincinnati Reds, Castro — who went 3-for-5 with two RBI and finished a home run short of the cycle in the Cubs’ victory in the nightcap — said he hadn’t heard from his agent about the deal and knew only what he had seen on TV in the clubhouse.

‘‘What I hear, I like, but I don’t know if it’s true yet,’’ said Castro, who would give up three years of free agency in the deal, which also includes a $16 million option for 2020, according to the report. ‘‘If the numbers I saw on TV are right, I’ll take it.’’

One source said a deal appeared close and only final details needed to be worked out. And multiple sources confirmed the parameters reported by ESPN Deportes.

One detail to iron out is thought to be how the money is distributed. With the Cubs flush with payroll room because of expiring contracts after this season, insiders suggest they want to buy down the seasons at the back end of the deal with a strong signing bonus.

‘‘Nothing’s finalized on Starlin,’’ Epstein said. ‘‘Other than that, I have no comment.’’

Castro’s agent, Paul Kinzer, said the report was premature but
declined to elaborate about how close to an agreement the sides were.

Castro, 22, is a two-time All-Star who led the National League in hits last season. If the reported option is exercised, the deal would match
Alfonso Soriano’s eight-year contract (2007-14) as the longest in franchise history.

‘‘I just told him, ‘Stay humble,’ ’’ Soriano said. ‘‘Love the game and work hard because money is good, but it doesn’t make you better. You have to keep working hard to get better every day. The money is there if you play hard and play good. . . . But you have to put the baseball first.’’

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