The Chicago Cubs and the San Diego Padres have concluded a long rumored trade, and the Cubs finally have their first baseman of the future. Anthony Rizzo will join the Cubs, but the Cubs had to give up young and promising right hander Andrew Cashner in the deal. Also coming to the Cubs in the deal is Zach Cates, a well regarded pitching prospect. The Cubs will send A-level outfielder Kyung-Min Na to the Padres in the trade.
With the addition of Rizzo, the Cubs now have a major piece of their future in place. Rizzo, just 22, projects as a good defensive, left handed slugging first baseman who should arrive in Wrigley no later than mid-2012. Suddenly, the Cubs have one of the more promising young infields in the National League.
Losing Cashner hurts, but it is a loss the Cubs can afford. Due to his shoulder injury last season most of us expected the Cubs to keep Cashner in the bullpen in 2012. Even with the recent trade of Marshall, the bullpen was still the primary strength for the Cubs. Once again, the Cubs traded from an area of strength to fill a weakness. If Cashner returns to the starting rotation down the road for the Padres, he projects no lower than a number two type of guy. San Diego got a very good, very young pitcher in this deal.
But then, so did the Cubs. Zach Cates is not a throw in. Cates was taken in the third round of the 2010 draft by the Padres. His professional debut came in the full-season Midwest League in 2011 where he totaled about 120 innings over 25 starts. His K/BB ratio of 2.09 and his HR/9 of 0.3 both indicate a guy who should rise through the farm system quickly. He will likely start the 2012 season in Daytona, but I would not be surprised if he moves to Tennessee by mid-season. I would not put Cates at the top of the Cubs pitching prospect list, but he is definitely a guy to keep an eye on.
Kyung-Min Na, on the other hand, was completely redundant for the Cubs. Na is a slightly built outfielder who will make a name for himself with his speed and defense. The Cubs have a number of players who fit that description in the low minors, and Na simply was not one of the more promising ones. He is a long way away from the majors and his ceiling is probably about the same as Tony Campana, although I don’t think Na is quite that fast. I am somewhat surprised the Padres did not hold out for a similar prospect with higher potential.
All in all, I love this trade for the Cubs. I do not like losing Cashner; the Cubs farm system is thin on high level, potentially elite pitching prospects. Losing even one of them is a blow. On the other hand, adding Rizzo is a great move that should pay dividends for years. Getting Cates in the trade makes this a very good deal for the Cubs.
We’ll have more reaction on Cubbies Crib regarding this trade in the coming days. I do not think the Cubs are quite done yet. We are likely to see a few more trades before pitchers and catchers report next month.