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 Cubs dropped the series opener 7-3 to 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."

Several 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 is hitting .278 with 12 homers and 58 RBIs.