Friday– It has been a busy week for Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations, Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer as they now have completed their second major trade of the week. On Wednesday, the Cubs traded troubled pitcher, Carlos Zambrano to the Miami Marlins in exchange for pitcher, Chris Volstad. The move freed up money for the team to work with and provided them with another young arm.
Now, today the Epstein and Hoyer completed a trade with the San Diego Padres that helps move them in the right direction for the future. The Cubs receive first basemen Anthony Rizzo and pitcher Zach Cates in exchange for pitcher Andrew Cashner and outfielder Kyung-Min Na.
Rizzo, 22, was drafted by the Boston Red Sox and Epstein in the sixth round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft. He was then dealt to the Padres in a deal that sent Adrian Gonzalez to Boston. Rizzo spent most of last season in Triple-A Tuscon last year where he batted .331 with a 1.056 OPS, 34 doubles, 26 homers and 101 RBIs in 93 games. His strong season last year landed him as the number one first base prospect by MLB.com. However, Rizzo struggled during his short time in the Majors last season, batting .141 with one home run and nine RBIs in 49 games, but he has dominated Minor League pitching at every stage of his career, batting .296 with 119 doubles, 64 home runs and 281 RBIs in 375 career Minor League games over five seasons.
Acquiring Rizzo erases all the possibilities of the Cubs signing slugger Prince Fielder. Trying to rebuild and be competitive within the next few years, spending over $150 million on one player just did not make sense for the Cubs plans. Rizzo is 6 years younger than Fielder and about $20 million cheaper a year. This allows much more money for the Cubs to spend on a variety of players.
The other player the Cubs received was pitcher Zach Cates. Cates, 22, was the Padres’ third-round Draft pick in 2010. He made his professional debut last year, posting a 4-10 record and 4.73 ERA in 118 innings over 25 starts for Class A Fort Wayne. He struck out nearly a batter an inning and allowed only four home runs on the year. Cates adds another young arm in the Cubs system with a lot of upside.
Although Rizzo and Cates did not come cheap. The Cubs had to give up one of their best young pitcher in Andrew Cashner. Cashner, 25, went 2-6 with a 4.29 ERA in 60 big league appearances with the Cubs. He was set to be in the Cubs rotation last year, but unfortunately Cashner sustained an injury in his first start that landed him on the disabled list for the rest of the season. Even though scouts have said Cashner’s arm is one of the best they have seen in a while, the possibility of re-injuring his elbow is still a big scare. So trading him away is not a bad idea.
Another comfort for Epstein and Hoyer is the amount of starting free agent pitcher next off season. Some of the pitchers include Matt Cain, Zack Greinke, Cole Hamels, Shawn Marcum, Anibal and Jonathan Sanchez, and Ervin Santana. So if they choose to build pitching by free agency they will have a lot of options next year.
Finally, the last piece of the deal wasKyung-Min Na. Na, 20, hit .268 with 10 doubles and 22 RBIs in 83 games between four different teams in the Cubs’ Minor League system last year. The Seoul, South Korea, native was signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2009.
Cubs fan should be very excited about this trade. Expect to see Rizzo in the majors this season. I would head on over to TopBet.Com and put some money down on it! Most likely, the opening day starter at first base. With a power bat now in the lineup the Cubs can move Soriano now. Reports have said the the Baltimore Orioles and Seattle Mariners are interested in Soriano but the Cubs would have to pay a lot of the money still owed to Soriano.
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