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Starlin Castro set to sign $60M deal; Darwin Barney set to tie record

Shortstop StarlCastro fires first after forcing out Rickie Weeks complete double play third inning Monday. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

Shortstop Starlin Castro fires to first after forcing out Rickie Weeks to complete a double play in the third inning Monday. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: September 29, 2012 6:19AM



The Cubs’ future will be on display Tuesday with Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney in the spotlight.

For Castro, the day is expected to bring the signing of a seven-year, $60 million contract that will lock him up as a team cornerstone for the Theo Epstein era.

For Barney, the day could bring a National League record-tying event should he play another errorless game.

Barney played his 112th consecutive errorless game at second base Monday in an otherwise disastrous 15-4 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers.

The NL record for second basemen is 113 set in 2010 by David Eckstein of the San Diego Padres.

Cubs manager Dale Sveum already has endorsed Barney for Gold Glove honors.

Even if he were to come up short of the NL record, Barney has quietly proved he can be part of the positives for a team desperate for any silver lining.

Barney and Castro might be the best things going for the Cubs’ future.

Sources confirmed that Castro could sign a deal worth $60 million, including $59 million for seven years with a club option for an eighth year and a $1 million buyout.

The deal is believed to be without no-trade provisions for the two-time All-Star who’s in his third major-league season.

And if the adage is true that a team must be strong up the middle to succeed, at least Epstein can count one fewer worry.

‘‘They’ve done a great job, and yet you still have to realize that Castro is 22 and Barney is figuring out second base [after converting from shortstop] — although he’s figured it out pretty well,’’ Sveum said.

‘‘Barney is having a Gold Glove season, but he doesn’t shy away from making himself better every day. And Starlin is getting better and understanding about positioning and footwork on a double play.

‘‘They accomplish things over a season, and hopefully the next season is when you start making strides.’’

Baseball statistician John Dewan has calculated that Barney has saved more runs from scoring (28 before Monday’s game) than any other NL second baseman. That also ranks among the majors’ best for any position.

Barney leads in fielding percentage and putouts for second basemen.

Castro leads NL shortstops in assists — but he also leads in errors with two more Monday that raised his total to 21.

Up-the-middle defense also includes catchers, pitchers and center fielders.

Behind the plate, rookies Steve Clevenger and Welington Castillo still have to prove that they’re elements of the future.

The pitching corps might be the most unsettled part of the formula, and Epstein has made clear that is the main focus for repair.

But center field has been another positive with David DeJesus playing well there before prospect Brett Jackson, who hit his fourth home run in the sixth inning off reliever Kameron Loe, was called up Aug. 5.

‘‘Our center fielders have done a really good job,’’ Sveum said.



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