In a four-player deal, it has been announced that the Chicago Cubs have acquired first baseman Anthony Rizzo, along with right-hander Zach Cates, from the San Diego Padres for pitcher Andrew Cashner and outfielder Kyung-Min Na.
The move presumably takes the Cubs out of the running for free-agent slugger Prince Fielder, as the 22-year-old Rizzo is among the top prospects in all of baseball and will presumably be the Cubs' first baseman of the present and future.
Acquired in the trade that sent Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox last offseason, Rizzo is a got a taste of big league action last season but struggled over 128 at-bats, hitting just .141 BA, 1 HR, 9 RBI.
Still, he was dominant upon his return to Triple-A, hitting .331 BA, 26 HR, 101 RBI in just 356 at-bats. Considering how young he still is, he should only get better.
Earlier in the offseason, talk of a Rizzo-based package to acquire Cubs starter Matt Garza were among the hotter rumors, but in the end the Cubs were able to hold onto their ace and still get their guy.
That is not to say that Rizzo came cheap though, as Cashner was one of the Cubs' most promising young pitchers and will certainly factor into the Padres' future plans.
Selected in the first round of the 2008 MLB draft, Cashner was used primarily as a reliever in college and was viewed as the best reliever in the draft coming out of TCU.
He made his big league debut in 2010, appearing in 53 games out of the Cubs bullpen and posting a 4.80 ERA and 8.3 K/9 mark over 54.1 innings. Take away two disastrous July outings that season in which he gave up 12 runs in 1.1 innings and his ERA was a dominant 2.89.
Last season, Cashner won the final spot of the rotation out of spring training and looked great in his first start going 5.1 innings and giving up just two hits and one run. He landed on the DL following that start, however, and did not pitch again until September 9, making six relief appearances down the stretch.
He will likely vie for a spot in the Padres rotation this spring, and at 25 years old he still has plenty of upside to emerge as a front-of-the-rotation starter if he can remain healthy.
The Padres moving Rizzo seemed inevitable after the team acquired first base prospect Yonder Alonso in the trade that sent Mat Latos to the Reds, and the Cubs' interest in him makes sense as it is new Cubs GM Jed Hoyer who acquired him last year in San Diego.
Also going to the Cubs in the deal was the right-handed Cates, a 2010 third-round pick who went 4-10, 4.73 ERA, 111 Ks, 118 IP last season at Single-A in what was his first pro season.
The Padres also acquired 20-year-old Korean outfielder Na from the Cubs. Na hit .268 BA, 0 HR, 22 RBI with 20 SB last season over four different levels, advancing as high as Double-A.
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