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Last week we looked at the players who were arbitration eligible and we talked a little about what I would do with each of those scenarios. None of the three got long term deals, but all are in the fold with one year contracts. That, coupled with an article (subscription required) by Jim Bowden has me thinking about which of the players in the organization I’d be interested in locking up long term. I qualify that by saying that I look at these players in a vacuum without regard to current contract because there is no telling what the future holds in regards to players acquired via trade, draft or free agency. I’m simply looking at these guys based on what we know and deciding who I’d invest in if everyone was a free agent going forward.

Starlin Castro – Note that Castro is already locked up to a long term deal, so this is assuming he wasn’t. I believe he can be a top five shortstop in the Majors as he continues to develop. I think the power will continue to blossom, eventually leading to a season along the lines of .300 / .350 / .480 with 25 HR, 35 doubles and 15 steals. That is great production out of a shortstop, especially considering his age. I also don’t believe those numbers are more than two years away. The time would be now to put your chips in and invest in Castro as a building block of the future. The only downside I see is that I don’t project him as a 3-4-5 hitter in the lineup, so it’s a lot of capital to invest in a guy that may hit 2nd or 6th, but I’d act on it.

Anthony Rizzo – If Jed and Theo, particularly Jed, believe that strongly in Rizzo, and it’s obvious they do considering they picked him in Boston, traded for him in San Diego and then traded for him in Chicago, then take the production we saw last year (particularly that of AAA) and lock him in as the biggest run producer on this team going forward and surround him with pieces in a quest for a title.

Jeff Samardzija – I wrote it in the piece linked above and I’m going to write it again. I’m all for a four year deal for Samardzija. I believe in his talent and I think we’re going to see more improvement this year. There were times last year he was flat out unhittable and I think that’s just the tip of the talent he has. It’s so important to remember how little he focused on baseball in college. It was his second sport. Now it’s his primary focus and we’re seeing the light go on. I’d lock him up.

That’s my three. I want to hear from you. Am I crazy? Am I missing someone? Let’s hear it.

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Joe Aiello is the founder of View From the Bleachers and one of the lead writers as well as host of VFTB Radio. Growing up in Chicago, he fondly remembers attending games in the bleachers before that was the popular thing to do. Currently Joe resides in North Carolina with his wife and three kids. Connect with Joe via Twitter / Facebook / E-mail