(Reuters) - The Chicago Cubs welcomed free agent Ben Zobrist and bid goodbye to Starlin Castro, while the Arizona Diamondbacks further bolstered their rotation with a deal for Shelby Miller announced on Wednesday.
The Diamondbacks, who last week stunned Major League Baseball by signing free agent starter Zack Greinke to a six-year, $206.5 million deal, added another All-Star to their rotation with the acquisition of 25-year-old Miller.
Arizona sent a trio of talented young players in outfielder Ender Inciarte and minor leaguers Aaron Blair and Dansby Swanson to Atlanta for Miller and minor leaguer Gabe Speier.
The Cubs landed coveted free agent Zobrist, who helped the Kansas City Royals win the World Series last year, with a four-year, $56 million contract.
Chicago made room for the versatile Zobrist at second base by acquiring pitcher Adam Warren and a player to be named from the Yankees for 25-year-old Castro, a three-time All-Star.
“We couldn’t have made this free-agent signing without this trade, and would not have made the trade without the free-agent signing,” Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein told reporters at the winter meetings in Nashville.
“Ben’s a winning baseball player,” Epstein said. “If you look at his overall contribution on the field — his offense, his defense, his baserunning — he’s been one of the most valuable players in the game.”
Cubs manager Joe Maddon will be reunited with one of his favorite players in the 34-year-old Zobrist, who played for Maddon with Tampa Bay from 2006-14.
Zobrist, who split last season between the Oakland A’s and Royals, batted .276 with 13 home runs while playing second base, third base, left field and right field.
Castro has four years and $38 million remaining on the seven-year, $60 million deal he signed with the Cubs in 2012.
Castro batted .265 last season in an up-and-down season which began with him as starting shortstop before being benched and eventually moved to second base. The Dominican finished strong, hitting at a .426 clip in September.
Warren, 28, succeeded both as a starter and a reliever for New York, posting a 3.29 ERA in 43 appearances for the Yankees.
Miller, a first-round draft pick by the Cardinals in 2009, posted career highs last year in innings pitched (205 1/3) and strikeouts (171), while pitching in bad luck last season.
Atlanta failed to score a run when he was in the game 14 times as he went 6-17 despite a 3.02 ERA.
Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes