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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.

  • Rick Vaughn

    WTF Brett? I walk away for 10 minutes to read my barstoolsports. Roll onto my facebook and BAM, I get hit with this? I’m hungover dude, take it easy. If Soriano gets traded in the next few hours, just save it ’til this evening, eh? Between this; Starlin; and Zambrano, I’m just a little overwhelmed right now.

    I can’t believe all it took was Cashner.

    • DRock

      Exactly! I was checking twitter, and BN, and all my other sports news outlets all morning and I walk away from desk to go to lunch and get a text from my friend that we traded Cashner for Rizzo. All I can say is, Holy Cow! (Harry voice, of course)

  • Bryan

    Steal! Cash has a heck of an arm, but with his injury troubles this is a great move. Rizzo has potentially to be our first baseman for many, many years to come! Now keep making some more moves (Byrd, Garza, Sori, etc. potentially) and we’ll continue to stock up on young talent that is going to help this organization out for years to come rather than just right now.

    Like i’ve said, i have no problem watching another year or two of bad cubs baseball as long as you can see the foundations for success being laid out. right now with Castro, Jackson and Rizzo you have a pretty darn solid base of internal bats to build your lineup around for the future

  • http://bleachernation.com loyal100more

    the next big discovery on theos draft resume.

  • Kevin

    All the Cubs need now is a shortstop :(

    • http://twitter.com/#!/jonmartinGOCUBS Jon Martin

      we have castro?

      • ferrets_bueller

        Castroberger.

        • DRock

          Agreed. We may need to trade for Hanley now bc Castro could end up in Cook County…

  • Elliott9

    If Rizzo can beat cancer, he sure as hell can help beat a curse.

  • Eric

    I check Bleacher nation about 100 times a day.  (gee, thanks brett, for making me an addict, I mean that in a good way :P).  But WOW, what a nice big surprise to hit the “refresh” button too.  And I wanted Rizzo, because I knew Theo and Hoyer BOTH had a history of wanting him, and I trust their scouting.  So suffice it to say I’m a pretty happy dude right now.

  • EQ76

    So if we trade Garza for a haul of talent, would it be safe to assume our farm system could jump to a top 10-15 in the league?

    • Kyle

      With the additions we’ve made this offseason, and considering that I thiink Rizzo still counts as a prospect but Cashner didn’t, we should really be close to top-15 right now.

      • http://CubbiesCrib.com Luke

        BA had Rizzo as the Padres #1 prospect. So between Rizzo, the two guys from the Reds (one of whom was top 10 for the Reds), and the Bianchi signing, I have to think the Cubs have moved up the lists a fair amount.

        Between the new acquisitions and the depth and quality in the low minors, I’d say some where in the 11-15 range is probably about right. Anything higher than 8 would really surprise me, but I can’t see them be lower than 17 or so.

        • CubFan Paul

          what do you know of Bianchi? can he show up & win the 2B job? he’s old enough and could have a solid camp because he’ll be finally healthy

          • http://cubbiekingdom.wordpress.com hansman1982

            Luke may know more than me but my take is that if Bianchi can come in and have a lights out ST and Barney is, well, Barney in ST then we could easily see Bianchi at 2nd.  Then again, I don’t know a lot about Bianchi’s defense.

            • CubFan Paul

              from what i’ve read about Bianchi, his defense is above average at SS & 2B ..i’ve been waiting like crazy for a Barney replacement/a Better second baseman/prospect but Bianchi could be that guy in the near term

              • http://cubbiekingdom.wordpress.com hansman1982

                From the little I have read, I may need to read more on Bianchi.

                • kinhin

                  Bianchi is going to give Barney a run for his money. He’s an above average defender and has more pop. Also has shown he can hit for average.

            • http://CubbiesCrib.com Luke

              Nailed it.

              Bianchi is a walking injury, but when healthy he was considered to be the Royals shortstop of the future. If he can stay healthy and if his injuries haven’t degraded his abilities too much, he is the best second baseman in the Cubs’ upper minors. If he has a solid spring training, I think he’ll take the job from Barney.

              Either way, Bianchi has a great shot to make the roster as the backup shortstop – a position that right now would also be Barney’s.

              Don’t dismiss the possibility of a Barney trade, either. He has much more value as a shorstop (his natural position) than as a second baseman (where his bat is anemic). The Cubs could possibly flip Barney to a team needing a short stop and try to run with DeWitt / Bianchi at second next season.

            • King Jeff

              You also have to consider Jeff Baker and Blake DeWitt into the second base equation.  With a real genuine manager this year, it’s possible the best player will actually see the field this year, and that a platoon system might possibly be deployed correctly.  It’s going to be interesting to see how the roster shakes out over the next couple of months, that’s for sure.

        • http://bleachernation.com loyal100more

          a haul for garza i think we would land in the top 5

          • JulioZuleta

            We are definitely in the top 15 now. A big haul for Garza probly puts us arounf 8 or 9. If we were to get Turner, Jackson would be our #3 prospect. The exciting thing for me is that I expect the Cubs to shoot up next year just based on teh performances of the players in Boise, Peoria and Daytona. We should be knocking on the door of the top 5 next year with another good draft. Once Pena signs elsewhere, we’ll have three picks in the top 45, and 4 in the top 60 or so.

  • The Omnipresent Mystery Team

    Like it – I’ll be curious to hear the Pads take on this and what they saw when checking Cashner’s current health. I think the long-term take on this deal hinges on whether or not Cashner ever starts again.

    For what it’s worth, I’d rather have Rizzo than Alonso, so I’m not sure what the new Padres’ regime is thinking.

    • http://cubbiekingdom.wordpress.com hansman1982

      I have heard that Rizzo has a bit of a long-loopey swing, so that may have scared them off and Alonso has a bit more “proven” ability in the bigs.  I go back to my, Powerball for Hot Lotto ticket swap analogy.

  • spencer

    So are we doing an old school three man rotation this year?

    • Noah

      Cashner was never going to be involved in the rotation this year. It will now be the Padres problem figuring out to put him in the rotation or the pen. He’s a gifted arm, but has a 50/50 chance at best of being a starter long term, and he certainly won’t be in the rotation this year (he needs to build back up arm strength).

      Barring another move, the Cubs’ opening day rotation currently appears to be: Garza, Dempster, Well, Wood and Volstad. It probably won’t be pretty but the back three of that group will at least be cheap.

    • http://twitter.com/#!/jonmartinGOCUBS Jon Martin

      thats what it looks like, i find this a dumb trade. yeah lets just make are starting rotation even worse! good idea

      • pakman23

        Cashner wasn’t going to start this year anyway. This is NOT a “dumb trade”, its a very solid trade.

      • cls

        Seriously?

  • 2much2say

    You have a 1st baseman in Rizzo. A top starter in Garza, who is staying put. Now all we need is a 3rd baseman move Stewart to 2nd, and Cespedes in CF.
    Dejesus
    Castro
    Cespedes
    Rizzo
    Lahair
    Stewart
    Soto
    Dominguez/Vitters

    • Kyle

      Stewart really can’t be a long-term option at 2b in the majors.

      I can’t help but notice that everyone we’ve acquired this offseason has a reputation as a plus defensive player, or in Stewart’s case at 3b, at least adequate.

      • ferrets_bueller

        2B base is actually Stewart’s more natural position than 3B.  He ended up as a 3B out of necessity for the Rockies, and it stuck.  He can easily play either.

        • Noah

          I think it’s the opposite that’s true. Stewart has only played 2 games at 2B in his entire minor league career. But when he came up the Rockies had a 3B (who I can’t remember now), but wanted to try Stewart’s bat at 2B and see if he could handle the position well enough defensively.

          • KidCubbie

            They had Garrett Atkins. They moved Stewart to 2B cuz Atkins was mashing the ball at that time. 3B is his natural position and i think thats where he should play. He could be our 3rd Baseman for the next few years. I think hes got the stuff to be very productive. I wish everybody would quit knocking him and let him prove himself.

            • Trent

              I agree. He is a former top pick and has shown some some positive flashes at times. Coming to Chicago might be just what he needs. Especially playing around a bunch of other young talent around him.

    • Noah

      Cespedes will almost certainly need at least a half a year in the high minors. The level of competition in Cuba is about the equivalent of High A Ball, maybe between High A and Double A. Compare that to Japanese baseball, which is considered right at or slightly above AAA.

    • Grifter

      As much as I want to, I don’t think we land Cespedes. There are too many other teams after him.

      • WGNstatic

        I think the Cubs might land Cespedes. Sure, there are other teams in on him,but the Cubs are cutting the ML payroll in a serious way, they have cut ties with 4 guys making more than $10M last year (Pena, ARam, Silva, Fukudome), and so far DeJesus is the only addition. Plus, with the new CBA, there are limits on how much of those savings can go into amateur talent, unless, that amateur talent happens to be foreign and over age 25, e.g. Cespedes.

    • fearbobafett

      moving LaHair the outfield and let Rizzo play 1st was my first reation after saying STEAL for us.

      • http://bleachernation.com loyal100more

        what is lahairs outfield history?

        • Kyle

          Very bad. And our OF is already crowded. He’s fine at 1b until they feel like Rizzo has had enough AAA time.

        • http://CubbiesCrib.com Luke

          He’s better than Soriano from what I can tell, but that’s about the best I can say for him. He’d be the weakest link in the defense by far if the Cubs put him in left field.

          Best thing for LaHair would be for the Cubs to start him at first out of the gate, he hits like there is no tomorrow, and the Cubs trade him in May to open up the position for Rizzo.

      • Jim

        I don’t know why people keep advocating LaHair for LF, the kid has been a first baseman for his career, just because he saw a little action in the OF last season shouldn’t mean he has the ability to play there full-time.

        He is a 1B because he doesn’t have the range to be an outfielder. Players can shift from LF to 1B but it is much harder to go 1B to LF.

  • ferrets_bueller

    Why aren’t the Cubs making any moves?  Why are we paying little Theo to not do anything? Better get on the phone and call Boston and plead with them to take him back.

    • Fishin Phil

      Well played Mr. Bueller!

      • ferrets_bueller

        thankya sir, thankya.

        • WGNstatic

          But…

          This trade doesn’t count, cuz I didn’t see a single tweet saying it was close or that the sides were talking.

          • http://cubbiekingdom.wordpress.com hansman1982

            Isn’t it weird that pretty much all of the activty the Cubs have been involved in starts as a rumor about 10:00 A.M. that morning?

  • pfk

    AWESOME!! LOVE IT! A great long term solution at a financially manageable amount. Now, lets use that money on a a FA we might need.

  • Kevin

    With Rizzo signing Garza to an extension looks like a solid move. Our team just continues to get younger much faster than we could have imagined. Moving Soriano would allow the youngsters to play and having a younger competitive team in 2014 with Garza as the ace is looking more and more plausible.

    • Cale

      Now we need to trade Soriano for some more pitching. Package Byrd and Barney to Washington for Espinosa. That would be a nice team to build around.

  • Toosh

    Agreed! Good trade! Now for more moves. The Cubs have too many outfielders and could use still more starting pitching. Keep those moves coming, HoyEpstein.

    • hardtop

      Thed Hoystein is my homie

    • Joe

      I’m a fan of Thed McHoystein myself

      • ferrets_bueller

        Thedson McHoyerstein!

        • Joe

          Working Dale Sveum in there is going to be tough.

  • notcubbiewubbie

    way to go theo and jed best part is no more carlos pena talk he is outta here. sorry to see cashner go but sometimes you have to give up something good to aquire something good.

  • Bren

    instant reaction: great deal, Cashner may be good, but already having shoulder problems at such an early stage doesn’t portend well.

  • Bernardo Santarem @bersantarem

    Cashner is not realiable since he´s injury prone.

    Lineup:
    DeJesus
    Barney
    Castro
    Rizzo
    Soto
    Stewart
    CF
    LF

    Rotation
    Wells
    Garza
    Dempster
    T Wood
    Volstad

    Can we compete with that?

    • jt

      I don’t think Rizzo will start the season in the bigs. he struggled a bit at that level last year. LaHair will probably start the season as our 1st baseman unless he absolutely blows it in spring training. My thoughts on the lineup if we were playing a game today.

      DeJesus
      Barney
      Castro
      LaHair
      Byrd
      Soriano
      Soto
      Stewart
      Pitcher

      Rotation
      Garza
      Dempster
      Wells
      Wood
      Volstad

      • Hawkeye

        I really don’t think Castro will bat 3rd to start the season.  His splits batting third last year were not good.   I am not sure who bats 3rd, but I hope they don’t go with Castro to start.

    • http://bleachernation ferris

      pitching and defence,i like it…i wanted fielder because the talk ppl were putting on here was garza for rizzo…but this im very happy w/rizzo is rated as number 1 prospect in baseball amoung 1b not jus padres ,i was hoping we get clint robinson from k.c for a cashner like deal but they went and done better,very happy with this deal,and why are ppl complaining about volstad his numbers were very compairable to big z the last cpl yrs thing is hes 5 yrs younger and has spunk w/o bad attitude

    • http://bleachernation.com loyal100more

      what if you bat soriano (if hes around) or lahair behind rizzo. gotta have someone to protect your young power hitting #4 hitter in his at bats.

    • 2much2say

      Don’t see Barney starting, Cubs can go after Juirgens now. They can get a AAA 3rd baseman for Byrd. Baker Soriano for Juirgens. Hard to let all that offense go.
      Castro Dejesus Soriano/Cespedes Lahair Rizzo Soto Stewart Dominguez/Vitters
      LF Lahair CF Cespedes RF Dejesus 4th Jackson. Cus payroll expected to be 115-122 mil

  • PeteG

    I doubt Cashner will ever truly be a great pitcher; above-average at best. This Rizzo kid could be a monster. He’s young, lefthanded, and cost-efficent. I’ll take it!

  • tjtrigo

    I am pretty sure there were some high fives going around the Cubs front office today.  Theo/Jed got their prospect back and Z was sent packing.  This Cubs team already has the Theo/Jed stamp on it.

    • http://bleachernation.com loyal100more

      love this trade and the direction it shows us moving in…. the plan is becoming more clear. cubs fans standing ovation on this deal!

  • http://cubbiekingdom.wordpress.com hansman1982

    Holy shit…

  • SouthernCub

    Brett, your work definitely doesn’t go unappreciated, thanks for your diligent, detailed hard work.

  • North Side Irish

    Good long term move…Rizzo is far better than any 1B option the Cubs had. Sounds like he could be an above average first baseman in the long run, but I think people are getting too excited. He was #75 on Baseball America’s prospect list for 2011. Keith Law didn’t have him in his top 50 and said his “ultimate long-term ceiling of a fringe All-Star at first base.”

    Rizzo’s a nice piece, but it doesn’t sound like he’s a future cornerstone on a playoff team. I liked Cashner but the injury history was scary. Good move for both teams.

    • King Jeff

      Go back and look at that list and note the names that are around Rizzo in the rankings.  There are a lot of top tier prospects ranked in that range, and it was last years list.  I would imagine he’s going to be closer to the top 30 on this years list.  Not bad for a guy who was a 6th round pick by Epstein/Hoyer/McLeod a few years ago.

  • http://cubbiekingdom.wordpress.com hansman1982

    Lets just hope that Epstein didn’t get Cashner and Wood confused.

  • ty

    feelin pretty glum today until this hot news! Remember Cashner reporting to Fitch after being drafted and he had a minor injury that day and had to wear a rehab shirt. One thing after another with this frail kid. Na is really fun to watch with all the skills and someday could be—–but as Brett said very expendable now. This may be a great deal.

  • King Jeff

    Zach Cates just switched from catcher to pitcher the year he was drafted, so he’s only been pitching for about 2 years now.  Na is an athletic center fielder who was in a system that had a bunch of them.   This deal was pretty much Cashner for Rizzo which really surprises me, unless the Padres view Cashner as their closer.

  • http://bleachernation.com ricosanto

    GREAT TRADE THEO HAS A GREAT HANDLE ON PLAYERS AND PROSPECTS . Cashner if he starts his arm will go out. Carpenter is needed for bullpen.

  • rcleven

    We are getting pretty close to our spring training roster. Have to believe the were just a little crowded in the outfield.Really don’t think Sorry is next to go.I have believe Byrd will be next domino to fall. My heart goes out to Bryan LaHair (Can’t catch a break).

    • http://cubbiekingdom.wordpress.com hansman1982

      LaHair will get a good long look at the beginning of the year.  Can’t hurt to put Rizzo in Iowa until the trade deadline and if LaHair is hitting lights out but we are out of it, you move him, bring up Rizzo and away you go with another 6 years of cost control at 1st base, something the Cubs haven’t had in ages.

      • JasonB

        Agreed – no reason to rush Rizzo when he showed last year that he isn’t quite ready yet.  Give him some time in AAA to figure it out.

        Plus, Hansman and Katie also want to watch him play a few games in DM next year, which I’m sure is something Theo will take into consideration when detemining where Rizzo starts.

        • http://cubbiekingdom.wordpress.com hansman1982

          ummm, ya…had a three-way with Katie and Theo when we made that decision.  Three-way CALL…Call…

          • Hawkeye

            Mark your calendars ICubs fans.   Rizzo to make his debut on April 5th at 6:35 CST.   Who’s gonna be around for an opening day get together.  We can watch the Big Cubs beat Washington at a local beverage establishment, and then head on over to Principal Park for a night cap.  

            BTW, hope your summer plans bring you to Des Moines sometime Brett?

            • Katie

              I’m totally down with that Hawkeye! I go to Opening Day every year. I go in with the Waveland bar group. $10 gets you a ticket to the game, Plus free food and beer in the North parking lot till game time. It’s a great deal.

              As for that threeway…Er….phone call, that was legendary.

              (this is NOT a dating site!)

      • rcleven

        Heard on score radio LaHair starting first baseman, Rizzo to AAA. Per Theo.

        • BetterNews

          Yes, but that’s O.K.. I have not felt this good about first base in about 6 years.

  • Cubsklm

    I just pee’d myself.

  • http://bleachernation.com Butch Cub

    Cubs Win!!! Now land Cespades & a solid left-handed hitting mid-infielder…

  • JasonB

    Nice trade

    People still going to complain that Theo and Jed aren’t doing anything?

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