The Chicago Cubs and San Diego Padres agreed to a four-player trade Friday afternoon, with the Cubs acquiring first baseman
Anthony Rizzo was coveted by the present Chicago Cubs front office his entire professional career. General manager Theo Epstein drafted the left handed hitting first baseman in 2007 when he was the general manager of the Boston Red Sox. Last off-season, Epstein made Rizzo a big piece of the Adrian Gonzalez
trade, sending him to San Diego where Jed Hoyer was the general manager for the Padres. Not so coincidentally, Rizzo is reunited with both, now that Theo Epstein is the President of Baseball Operations for the Cubs, and Jed Hoyer is the team's GM.
Rizzo received a chance to make it as an every day major league first baseman last season with the Padres, but he did not excel when given the opportunity. In 153 plate appearances, he carried a disappointing triple-slash line of .141/.281/.242 with a single home run and 46 strikeouts. Rizzo was given that opportunity though because he raked at the Triple-A level in 2011. The Florida native's end of the year stats at Tuscon included a triple-slash line of .331/.404/.652 (good for a 1.056 OPS), 26 home runs, 34 doubles and 89 strikeouts over 413 plate appearances. Turning 22 last August, those numbers indicate more promise of a future middle-of-the-order bat than the dreaded "Quad-A" label.
Hoyer envisions the newly acquired first baseman to start the year at Triple-A Iowa for the Cubs, saying he felt like he did Rizzo a disservice last season when he rushed him to the majors. This will put Bryan LaHair
, 29, in line to be Chicago's every day first baseman to start the 2012 season. Not only will this allow Rizzo to develop a little more, it could also boost LaHair's trade value if he can repeat what he did last year at Triple-A (.331/.405/.664 with 38 home runs).
Also acquired by the Cubs in this deal is right handed pitcher Zach Cates. Cates, 22, was a third round pick by the Padres in 2010. In his first season of professional ball he owned a 4.73 ERA with 111 strikeouts and 53 walks in 118 innings pitched with Low-A Fort Wayne in 2011.
In return, the Padres acquire flame-throwing right handed pitcher Andrew Cashner. Cashner, 25, earned a spot in Chicago's rotation in 2011 with a strong spring training. Unfortunately, after just one start against the Diamondbacks, he was placed on the disabled list with shoulder issues. He did get healthy and looked good in six September appearances, finishing the season with a 1.69 ERA and eight strikeouts over 10 2/3 innings pitched. Cashner will be used as Huston Street's
primary setup man next season, with a probable move into the rotation, or to the closer's role in the future.
The Padres also acquired Kyung-Min Na, a Korean born outfielder that spent most of last season with the Cubs' Low-A affiliate Peoria Chiefs. Kyung-Min, 20, will provide organizational outfield depth and possesses little upside at this point in time.
There is little impact in terms of fantasy baseball following this trade. Rizzo is probably owned in almost all dynasty/keeper leagues already, and would have been taken as a flier in most NL-only drafts this season. His value may have a higher ceiling now that his future home is Wrigley Field instead of PETCO Park, but he has to get back to the majors first. Cashner's value may increase a little if he still projects to be the setup man to start the season. Huston Street's injury history would make Cashner a dark horse for saves in NL-only leagues.