Chicago Cubs Acquire Anthony Rizzo and Zach Cates for Andrew Cashner and Kyung-Min Na

The Chicago Cubs’ front office has not so secretly coveted 22-year-old first base prospect Anthony Rizzo from the Padres since Yonder Alonso took Rizzo’s job. And now they’ve got their man.

Today the Cubs announced that they’ve acquired Rizzo, together with pitcher Zach Cates for pitcher Andrew Cashner and outfield prospect Kyung-Min Na.

Rizzo has been discussed here at length before, but here’s a notable selection:

Rizzo, who just turned 22 in August, is the top prospect in a very, very good Padres’ system. Rizzo was a top 100 prospect in all of baseball going into 2011, and then all he did was put up an eye-popping .331/.404/.652 line, with 26 homers and 34 doubles in just 93 games. Those numbers are great even for the PCL, particularly for a 21-year-old. Before 2011, Rizzo’s minor league numbers were good, if unremarkable, but he was young at every level, and was consistent after each promotion. Rizzo is also believed to be an above average defender at first base.

Rizzo was called up late last year for a cup of coffee, and struggled mightily, hitting just .141/.281/.252 in 153 plate appearances (love that IsoD, though, eh?). Very few saw that as a reason for concern, however.

Rizzo was drafted by the Red Sox under Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod, so their interest is, of course, understandable. Given his age and lack of success in the bigs last year, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Cubs let Bryan LaHair break camp as the Cubs’ starting first baseman, giving Rizzo additional time to develop at AAA. Otherwise, Rizzo is the Cubs’ starting first baseman right out of the gate, and, yes, almost certainly takes the Cubs out of the running for Prince Fielder.

Cates, who just turned 22, was the Padres’ 3rd round pick in 2010 (again, Hoyer/McLeod), and spent 2011 in A ball, pitching adequately, if unspectacularly. Cates struck out 8.5 per 9, which is great, but walked 4 per 9, which is not. Obviously the new guys in charge must have been fans.

Cates is probably a fair swap for Na, 20, who is himself a legit prospect. A quality young outfielder, Na has a great deal of upside, but is still a long way from the  Majors. Given the Cubs’ depth in low-minors outfield prospects, Na was expendable.

And, ah, Andrew Cashner.

Going into 2011, he was primed for a breakout season in the rotation. His first start didn’t disappoint – or, at least, it wouldn’t have, if it hadn’t been his only start. Recurrent rotator cuff issues ended Cashner’s season, and he was set to pitch out of the pen in 2012. To be sure, Cashner is an extremely talented pitcher, but, given the injuries and the likelihood he’d be in the pen in the near-term, he was a piece the Cubs could afford to shop. If Cates is a fair swap with Na, landing Rizzo for Cashner is likewise a fair move.

Given the Cubs’ long-term needs, and the relative depth of their pen, I can’t call this anything but a win for the Cubs. It was probably also a win for the Padres, which is just fine with me.

Obviously I’ll have much, much more on this trade in the coming days.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

545 responses to “Chicago Cubs Acquire Anthony Rizzo and Zach Cates for Andrew Cashner and Kyung-Min Na”

  1. Sully777

    Damn Jeff L: going through these comments it looks like you’ve been through a WWE posting battle royal. Final thoughts of the night: glad it looks like we’re out of the Fielder sweepstakes, he has future DH written all over him(and that future may be sooner than we think). Also, lots of dialogue over Cub spending tonight-have a feeling these will be alleviated down the road once we get the farm system on the right path and we are within striking distance in the division. And what the hell; I may as well stir up a little debate regarding Garza again and reiterate that I am intrigued by the pitching depth in the Blue Jays organization-and by the kid Marisnick(how about Szczur, Jackson and Marisnick patrolling the Wrigley outfield down the road). I know, prospects…

    1. BetterNews

      He deserved it(LOL)

  2. Sully777

    Better: mixed thoughts on your comments. With Cashner out, it probably increases the likelihood that Samardzija will be counted on to come out of the pen. I was hoping he’d have a shot at a starting role-I think the kid could be one of the pleasant surprises if given the opportunity. As for Wells, my hope is they trade him to someone foolish enough to give us a decent prospect. This guy shows me little; living off a lucky 2009 campaign, low ceiling, and pushing 30. I’m sick of the hope surrounding a guy lacking upside(Samardzija to me is a way better option here-let’s see what he can do if given the chance-same goes for Volstad). Sorry to be hating on Wells so much…

    1. BetterNews

      You don’t think Russell will be good?

    2. BetterNews

      Have we forgot about Travis Wood already? For cry’n out loud!

  3. Sully777

    Better: I think Russell’s tough, but as far as I can tell he’ll be coming out of the pen. I’m just wondering if Marshall’s departure will elevate Russell; and Cashner’s impact Samardzija-thus eliminating his SP opp. As of now, I’d like to see Garza, Dempster(until in-season trade), Wood, Volstad and Samardzija as the 5 guys. Who knows, with “Threeo” wheeling and dealing we may have new options on the horizon. Also intrigued to watch this Beliveau kid in AAA this year.

    1. BetterNews

      That’s a scenario. Again, I don’t think the Cubs are done pitching wise.

  4. CubbieFaithful

    We all know this kid can hit but I haven’t see anything on his defense. I mean I’m sure Threeo (or whatever they are called now) wouldn’t overlook something like that, and I’m sure it’s fine. I mean he’s 22 he should be plenty athletic and the grass in Wrigley won’t hurt either. It’s just before I’m ready to get super-ridiculously excited, I wanna know if he can field.

    1. BetterNews

      Yes he can!

  5. Tommy

    Here’s a link from the MLB site that ranks the top 10 prospects at each position. They have Rizzo ranked as the #1 1st base prospect.

    http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/prospects/watch/y2011/

    According to that article, he is an excellent defender.

    If you check this out, when you’re done, check out the top 10 OF prospects. 2 cubbies on that list, baby!

    1. BetterNews

      Thanks bro..Wanted to share that with fans also. Lost the link.

  6. Sully777

    CubbieFaith: Pretty solid reviews on Rizzo’s fielding(12 errors in 817 opps in AAA). Not sure he’ll be winning any Golden Glove Awards, but as I’ve said in previous posts these guys have a great deal of faith in this young man. He appears to be a classy kid who has demonstrated a great deal of courage in dealing with serious health issues early in his career. I think this kid epitomizes what they want the new Cubs to be about-and the kind professional kids and fans will truly be pulling for.

    1. BetterNews

      Sully–Don’t get pissed, but was does a gold glove really mean? Derrek Lee didn’t bring home a WS!

  7. CBP

    Garzas price now as a Cub should be a little higher!!! The reason is now the Cubs feel like we have most of the prospects we need!! We can start using Garza to build pitching around. Cubs now definitely feel like hey I’m not trading until your propose hits our demands.

  8. BetterNews

    Garza is not being traded.

  9. Sully777

    Better: Point taken; and you were good enough to roll with my Wells rant. Rephrasing-from what I’ve reviewed regarding Rizzo’s glove-he is solid while maybe not spectacular-but capable of holding his own at the major league level.

    1. BetterNews

      Yes, well spoken and taken in good context. People get pissed at me because I stick up for Garza so much.

  10. Trent

    I think this deal is great. I wasn’t electing much from Cashner this season even if he could stay healthy and the Cubs have a surplus of outfield talent. Especially, if we pursue Solar. Love it, keep up the good work Theo and company!

    1. BetterNews

      It could be great! Like Brett said, it’s a lottery ticket.

  11. J.B. House

    Actually in everything I read defense is a strength. The thing that seems so varied is how people view him offensively everywhere from amazing to career minor leagues. I would assume a lot of that is because of his poor numbers at the major leagues last year. The Padres probably rushed him because they struggled so offensively. Also I m sure being the first baseman acquired in the Gonzo deal he felt a lot of pressure to succeed right away.
    The cubs really have no reason to rush him. Chicago has Lahair and probably the cubs won’t be picked as a contender in 2012. And even though I like Lahair i doubt He will feel the same pressure replacing Brain as replacing Adrian Gonzales.
    I m choosing to be very optimistic. I will how ever miss Cashner .He not only had filthy stuff but seemed like a likeable kid….Good luck vs. everybody but the Cubs Andrew!

    1. BetterNews

      Yes, Andrew will be missed. But does he have “filthy” stuff anymore? Cubs said no!!!!!!!!!

      1. spearman

        yeah, I think sometimes when pitchers have filthy “stuff” their arms don’t last long.

        1. Brian Myers

          It depends on what generates the “filthy” stuff, the arm movement or the legs. If it’s the arm then yes, usually the stuff goes away pretty fast. If it’s the legs (Roger Clemens and Nolan Ryan are examples) then it can stay for a long time. I’m not a mechanics expert, but it appears he used both. He generates his power from legs and core but whips his arm fairly hard.

          ( http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/breaking-down-the-draft/ )

          In the end, particularly since he won’t rack up the innings in relief, it’s likely going to be his mechanics that give him issues (and little injuries that eat at the body over time throwing those mechanics off) yet he should have a long major league career.

          1. BetterNews

            Brian–Thanks for the link. Interesting for sure on slo-mo mechanics.

  12. Sully777

    As many of you probably have done, I’ve spent quite a bit of time since the Garza speculation trolling the 2011 Prospect Watch at mlb.com. I was fired up to check out the Cubs site and already see Rizzo up there with Jackson, Szczur and company! A couple things I’m wondering: Could Chris Carpenter be trade bait for a starting prospect? With Castro entrenched at SS(holding off on today’s news until further info), Baez likely shifting to 3B, and depth with Candelario and Hernanzez at the lower levels-could Junior Lake be desirable trade bait in exchange for young SP? He seems to be generating good buzz recently-but won’t be playing SS for the Cubs in all likelihood. Sounds like Threeo are alarmed by the lack of pitching depth in the organization-I see a couple of these guys as players with some promise we could afford to lose in exchange for more SP depth. Thoughts?

    1. Tommy

      Sully – great post! I DO think that Carpenter could be trade bait, like you. He’s 26 years old, and is just now cracking the MLB roster, and his stock may never get higher than it is right now. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them try to swing him out in a 2 for 1 deal or something. We’ll see. The way they’re moving, nothing would surprise me.

      Lake being moved is another issue in my mind. I don’t think the Cubs would move their best SS prospect without someone else to replace him with. It’s always nice to have something to fall back on if something drastic happens with your star in the majors, and Theo had a terrible time filling the SS position in Boston. Then again, you never really know. At the very least, they may want to wait for this sexual assault issue clears up!

  13. Sully777

    Better: What’s not to love about Garza?! Held his own in the dog-eat-dog world also known as the AL East; intensity to the nth degree; and looks cool as hell on that motorcycle the Rays gave him after his no-hitter. With that said, if i knew we could legitimately pair him with Cain and/or Hamels in a year-no question. However, I’m intrigued by some of these pitching prospects the Blue Jays and Tigers offer. For some reason(no inside info or strong data)-I’m concerned about that Turner kid from the Tigers. I would love for the Jays to offer up Hutchison, Big Deck and Nicolino along with RF Marisnick(I’m iffy on Drabek but would accept him as long as Hutch and Marisnick were in the mix). The argument has been made here that right now-you’ve got a legit guy in Garza-why roll the dice on unknowns. I just hope we strengthen the SP in the minors.

    1. BetterNews

      Yes you can roll the dice! You can go home broke too!

  14. BetterNews

    Look at his stance and hands! Rizzo will be good!

  15. Zach

    I dont really think people understand what the cubs are doing. The cubs are getting prospects that can play now or next year. They are trying to build a foundation with youth with guys like castro,jackson, and rizzo. They will trade garza beore spring training and get atleast two starters for him. Soriano and byrd are prolly gone too before the season. At the deadline you will see marmol,dempster and soto gone. In two years when the only money really out there is sorianos last year the cubs will spend BIG for the miising parts. Plus they will hav 2 years to stock pile the farm. So assuming they hav a foundation of atleast 5 young players to start with in two years the cubs will be good that third year. I know the prospects hav to pan out but i thinks the odds are in theo and jeds favor.

    1. T Larson

      I agree with you completely with the exception of Dempster and Marmol. I bet they will be gone well before the deadline. I am so glad the Cubs have leadership with a true plan!

      1. Rick Vaughn

        At this point I’d be surprised to see Garza traded before the season starts. The Cubs are reportedly asking for the world in return. Which I am very happy about. Toronto could still give in to the demands, but I don’t see Detroit or New York doing it. I feel Garza will have a strong first half and if he does his trade value will peak. I think July is the best time to make a deal (assuming we are already out of contention, of course). I’d still like to see his contract extended, but I believe Boras is his agent, so free agency may be inevitable for him.

        Soriano and Byrd are hopefully gone. I love Soto, but if he has a strong start on a losing club, he’ll be gone. Same with Dempster; New York and Boston will be desperate for starting pitching by July. Especially if Tampa is making it a three-way for the East/Wildcard spots. Unfortunately I think we’re stuck with Marmol unless his velocity recovers. But if it does he could be a big time trade piece. I just don’t see it happening though.

        Love the Rizzo deal. So stoked to watch these kids play some ball.

        1. BetterNews

          I’ll agree with most of what you said except for Soto.(You love him?)

        2. BetterNews

          Why do you love Soto? Please explain.

          1. Rick Vaughn

            He’s a well above average hitter for a catcher. Handles a pitching staff well. And the look on his face after Ozzie Guillen kicked his catcher’s mask last season was absolutely priceless.

            1. BetterNews

              What? Johnny Bench hit almost 400 homers/.270/.342/.476/.817 and your gonna tell me Soto is great? Are you Die Hard?

              1. Brian Myers

                Well, to find a “great” Cubs catcher you may have to go back all the way to the days of Gabby Harnett (my apologies the the Jody Davis and Randy Hundley fans, they were not great).

                Soto: his defense isn’t awful, but it is questionable… he would likely rank in the 20′s among currently major league catchers. He’s also very inconsistent and who knows the Soto that will show up this year?

                He’s a serviceable guy (or better) that is likely as good as the alternatives the Cubs have. As far as I’m concerned, he may be one of the Cubs toughest decisions this year as its tough to tell what you are going to get from him.

            2. BetterNews

              Oh ya! And that what before the “roid” thing came a long, not to mention Soto “Bong” things!

  16. cubsin

    Well, a whole day has gone by, and Soriano is still a Cub…

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    [...] last year, when the Cubs traded Carlos Zambrano for Chris Volstad and traded Andrew Cashner (plus) for Anthony Rizzo (plus) in this first week of January. Maybe that means moves are nearing [...]

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