Anthony Rizzo of the San Diego Padres hits a double against the Atlanta Braves at Petco Park in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
The Chicago Cubs found their first baseman of the future, and possibly for 2012, reuniting Anthony Rizzo with both Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer.
When the Padres traded their best young asset for Yonder Alonso, it became clear that Anthony Rizzo might have moved from "first baseman of the future" to "trade chip of the present." And with that, it looks like Rizzo will be the first baseman of the future again, but for the Chicago Cubs. From Scott Miller:
Padres trade 1B Anthony Rizzo and RHP Zach Cates in exchange for RHP Andrew Cashner and OF Kyung-Min Na
Rizzo has a fan club in Chicago, as his career originally started in Boston with Theo Epstein, and moved to San Diego with Jed Hoyer. The 22-year-old first baseman had a rough introduction to the big leagues, hitting .141/.281/.242 (bad even by Petco standards). But he started the 2011 season as Baseball America's #75 prospect in baseball, and he then tore up the Pacific Coast League, hitting .331/.404/.652 with 26 home runs. The PCL is a raging hitters' league, but that's still an impressive line from a 21-year-old.
The main trade chip coming back is Andrew Cashner, a hard-throwing and wild right-hander, who was used in the bullpen by the Cubs for most of 2010. Shoulder problems limited his time last season, but if he's healthy, he could be a rotation option for the Padres, or the closer-in-waiting behind Huston Street.
The Cubs also acquired former third-round pick Zach Cates, a right-handed starting pitcher who had a nondescript debut in the Midwest League. He was on the "others" section of John Sickels' list of the top 20 Padres prospects, but it should be noted that the Padres have a deep system.
The other piece going to the Padres is Kyung-Min Na, a 20-year-old outfielder whose .244/.335/.284 career line hints that he is raw as can be. He has 519 professional at-bats without a home run, and now he has Petco Park to look forward to.
If you really love Cashner's potential as a starter, there's a way to explain this trade, but at first glance it seems like an underwhelming return for one of the Padres' best trade chips. Perhaps the most important part of this deal is that it seemingly signifies that the Cubs are out of the Prince Fielder derby, much to the delight of the Nationals and Mariners, I'm sure.