For the first few months of the Cubs new administration, it has been relatively quiet on the forefront despite being in the running for several free agents throughout the offseason. However, yesterday Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer acquired first baseman Anthony Rizzo and Zach Cates, a 23-year-old pitcher from the San Diego Padres in exchange for Andrew Cashner and Kyung-Nin Ma according to MLB.com writer, Carrie Muskrat.
Although this trade is not in the same league as signing Prince Fielder, nor does this mean that Rizzo will be the projected starting first baseman for the Cubs this season, but Rizzo is undoubtedly a promising prospect that will be a serious component in the Cubs future. It seemed evident Rizzo would be on his way out of Chicago after the Padres traded for Yondo Alonso. With this move, Epstein and Co. were able to jump and grab a premier prospect.
Rizzo was called up to play for the MLB squad in San Diego last season, but flopped by only hitting .143 in only 35 games. In response to this, Jed Hoyer claimed on an interview with MLB.com that, "It was too early and a mistake on my part, and I don't think I did Anthony any favors there."Hoyer of course, was the one who decided to call Rizzo up last season, as he serves as the general manager for the Padres. Despite his lousy start, Hoyer believes that Rizzo is the future of the Cubs.
When asked about thoughts on Rizzo and his future with his new organization, Hoyer said that, "The way we see it is Bryan had a terrific year last year in Triple-A and has been terrific this year in Venezuela. We see him as our first baseman. It's likely Anthony will start the year in Triple-A." The Cubs have seemingly found their first baseman for the upcoming years, which is a very spectacular start to the re-building of the Cubs farm system, which has been beyond depleted for quite a while.
Alongside Rizzo, the Cubs also acquired a 23-year-old, Zach Cates, who went 4-10 with a 4.73 ERA in his first ever professional season within an organization. While he may not be the premier pitcher for the system, he seems to have some potential with a lot of time to develop before reaching the MLB level.
In return for these two prospects, the Cubs gave up Andrew Cashner, who was plagued by injuries and thought of by Theo Epstein as a reliever at best for the remainder of his career as well as Kyung-Nin Ma, a solid bat, but only a 20-year-old, who is far from reaching the big leagues. To say Rizzo was well worth it would be a massive understatement.
Disregarding his stint in San Diego, which is not going to do any hitter favors, Rizzo had a phenomenal tenure in Triple-A, hitting .331 with 26 home runs and 101 RBIs. While he will not be the starter this season, Rizzo definitely has a future on the Cubs. Without giving up too much, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer re-acquired a bat they have loved, but gave up for Adrian Gonzalez while serving in Boston last offseason.
Rizzo is a quality bat and with the right training in Triple-A to start the season, Rizzo could prove to be the most underrated acquisition in the Epstein/Hoyer era. While San Diego technically didn't lose anything, seeing as they have more faith in the abilities of Alonso, the Cubs did gain a very quality bat who could be a solid asset in the middle of Chicago's lineup for years to come.
Follow DJ Rallo @Str8edgeRallo