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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.

  • Daniel Guerra

    WOW, who’s Zach and Kyung? Time to google them!

  • Louis

    YES!!!!! That’s good news after a bad start to my day (starlin castro).

  • Andy Nelson

    This is a coup, right??

    • Kyle

      I wouldn’t call it a coup, but I’d call it a very astute move.

      The Padres are loaded at 1b, the Cubs had a gaping hole there from the low minors on up (recently drafted Vogelbach is the only real legit prospect we have at the position).

      With the addition of Wood and Volstad, the Cubs are suddenly looking adequate in terms of long-term rotation options. Not great, but there’s starting to be some depth there.

      • http://CubbiesCrib.com Luke

        I’d stick Gretzky on the list of legit first base prospects, but he is awfully raw yet, even compared to Vogelbach. He could also move to outfield if necessary.

        Getting Cates back in this deal might be a small coup. Na was a fringe-ish prospect, but Cates look legit. He won’t top the Cubs prospect lists, but he’s another quality arm on the depth pile.

  • ferrets_bueller

    F yeah, ninjjjjaaaaaaaaa!!!

     

    (although i still believe that Rizzo needs to make some serious adjustments in order to even approach big league success)

  • JR1908

    YESSSSS!!!

  • rbreeze

    Holy Cow!!!  I love this Theo guy.  He is making the splash a week before the convention.

    I smell a plan developing!!!

    • Wilbur

      Not to quibble on terminology, but the plan is developed.

      What we as fans are seeing are individual pieces being played out.

  • JulioZuleta

    Wowwwwwwww

  • tjtrigo

    Doesn’t Theo have any respect for the working man?  I’ve got lot’s of work to do today, and now this?!?

  • KidCubbie

    HOLY COW!!!!!!!!!!! Cubs meet your new 1B for the next decade.

  • jesse

    Omg! This made me run all over my house like a crazy man! :D

  • tjtrigo

    It would have been nice to see Boras’ face when he heard the news.  Fielder will be on his way to Washington.

  • CubsFanBob

    Didnt see Cashner going any where…

  • Bernardo Santarem @bersantarem

    Now, the Chicao Cubs are officially out of the Fielder sweepsteakes.

    Nice job Theo/Jed ! Not paying a million per pound for Fielder !

    • Fishin Phil

      Yes, stuff that in your pie hole Mr. Boras!

      • Rick Vaughn

        Couldn’t have said it better myself.

    • fearbobafett

      Fielder is probably pissed beyond belief right now. Bora$$ probably sold him on how easy it would be to put him in a Cubs uniform. Not now, have fun in Washington or maybe the Seattle ponies up your 10 year deal, which is what i am hoping for now.

  • Kyle

    I’m very happy with this deal.

    It’s very similar in value for both sides, but the Cubs had a huge hole at 1b organizationally, whereas the Padres didn’t.

    It’s hard to project Rizzo because his AAA numbers are so awesome but they were the PCL. He crushed it as hard as LaHair did, but he did it at 21 in his first look at the league. That’s a real prospect.

    • The Other Matt

      I believe we agree completely on this one.

      • Wilbur

        We’re all in violent agreement …

  • SweetJamesJones

    Bam. Hahaha!

  • Fishin Phil

    Wow!!  Go Theo/Jed!

    Hate to see Cashner go, but HOORAY for snagging Rizzo!

  • guy

    Wait, what? (/Norm MacDonald)

    Seriously, what the hell?

    Also, I don’t know either of the second prospects in this deal, but doesn’t this seem like a steal at first glance? Rizzo is a better prospect than Cashner, Cashner has a history of arm troubles…I don’t get it. Why would the Padres make this trade?

    Also, from the Cubs’ perspective, the rotation now has Garza, Dempster, Wells, Wood, and Volstad. There are a couple of other fifth starter options, so Cashner isn’t absolutely needed. I would do this deal in a heartbeat. But it’s still so weird…I just don’t understand it…

    • tjtrigo

      Cashner was most definitely going to be in the pen this year, where the Cubs actually have depth.  It is a hard loss, but Cashner was expendable especially in a trade for Rizzo.  I thought that Cashner would be the closer in 2013.  But when you can get a 1B of Rizzo’s caliber, I am happy to find another closer.

    • Matt

      They are loaded with First Base prospects. They could make a gamble. It is either a win win, or we win for once. I don’t see any way we are the losers on this trade.

  • North Side Irish

    Good bye 2012 season…hello $90M payroll. Glad my season ticket money is due next week.

  • NL_Cubs

    And the Theo/Jed train keeps rolling forward! Nice move boyz!

    What’s nice is we can put this Prince Fielder coming to Wrigley crap to rest…thank God.

     

    • Toosh

      Another good post! It’ll be fun to hear what Boras has to say about Fielder the next time he opens his yap.

  • jr5

    Totally random, and I’m far from a trained scout, but I attended one Fort Wayne Tincaps game last year, and when I read this story the name of Cates clicked. He started for Ft. Wayne, and looked decent. He pitched really well for the first 5 or so innings, to the point that I wondered how his season stats weren’t way better than they were, then it seemed like he got tired, and his defense let him down on a few balls, and that was that.

    Obviously my scouting report is a far cry from a professional’s, but he was a 3rd round pick in 2010, and he’s only 22; I don’t think he’s an insignificant piece, especially when compared to the Cubs starting pitching depth overall.

    • http://CubbiesCrib.com Luke

      Cates is not insignificant. He’s no Cashner, but he’s a perfectly legitimate pitching prospect.

      His numbers, for a guy in his first season of professional pitching and in the Midwest league, are just fine. The Cubs picked up a solid, not spectacular, pitching prospect. I look for Cates to start 2012 in Daytona, but I think he could go to Tennessee fairly quickly.

  • Deer

    This type of move makes a bad, rebuilding Cubs watchable. Love the move

    • Wilbur

      Agree

  • JB88

    Theo Epstein is not the President of Baseball Operations. He is a ninja.

    And to that point, it makes me realize that when the Garza ball drops, it is going to be completely shocking and might not even involve one of the teams that is supposedly interested in him.

  • pakman23

    This is huge for the Cubs future. With the haul they should get from Garza we could be looking at some very good young players in the next couple of years.

  • Louis

    Brett,
    Do you think Rizzo will start the season in triple A? Does this mean bye bye to Lahair or do you think if we trade Soriano he could play LF?

    • tjtrigo

      I feel for Lahair.  I would like to see him in LF, too, if Rizzo is ready to start now.

  • EQ76

    wow indeed.

  • EtotheR

    Wow. Love it. Love it. Love it.

    Big piece of the puzzle. BIG!

    Now…does it stop the Garza trade caravan, or solidify our desire for pitching and OF prospects?

  • http://bleachernation.com loyal100more

    nice move theo! much more one sided trade.

  • clark addison

    I’m guessing Rizzo will start the season at Iowa, unless he tears up the Cactus League.

    Good move.

  • cincycubfan

    Wow this came out of nowhere. I can’t even express how happy I am right now we just stole a potential all star first baseman for a pitcher with injury concerns and a mid level prospect. Theo continues to amaze me with his magic moves

  • Blinda

    I hope this means a Garza extension is in the works we got Rizzo without giving him up

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