Chicago Cubs traded for Anthony Rizzo 10 years ago today

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

January 6, 2012. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer make a deal with the San Diego Padres to acquire first base prospect Anthony Rizzo and minor league pitcher Zach Cates in exchange for pitcher Andrew Cashner and a minor league outfielder named Kyung-Min Na. Rizzo was originally drafted by Epstein in the 2007 draft (sixth round) with the Red Sox, and was dealt to the Padres in the Adrian Gonzalez deal in 2010. A decade later, this deal remains as one of the most important deals in Chicago Cubs history.

Rizzo was familiar to both Epstein and Hoyer, who was a member of the Padres front office prior to joining the Cubs, before the deal was made. Rizzo played 537 games in the Red Sox system from 2007-2010 before being dealt to San Diego. After tearing it up in Triple-A, Rizzo made his debut on June 9, 2011 with the Padres. He collected his first career hit in his debut, which was a triple off the wall at Petco Park. A few days later, he hit his first career home run.

Rizzo altogether struggled in his first MLB stint, slashing just .141/.281/.242 with just that one home run, nine RBI and 59 wRC+ in 49 games. Despite the struggles, he was still highly regarded. He was considered the Padres’ third-highest ranked prospect and was only 21 at the time. There was a bright future ahead of him and the newly assembled Cubs regime went right after him.

When Rizzo was acquired by the Cubs, the main piece they had to part with was Cashner. The hard-throwing righty was drafted multiple times, but eventually he signed with the Cubs after they took him 19th overall in 2008. Cashner pitched in 60 games for the Cubs between 2010 and 2011 and saw mixed results. While he could miss some bats, he struggled with command as he walked 34 hitters in 65 innings. Pair that with a 4.29 ERA and 4.84 FIP. Like Rizzo, he was still young and there was reason to believe he had future value.

Anthony Rizzo trade was an absolute win for the Chicago Cubs

There’s no question: the Cubs won this trade hands down. Rizzo spent nearly a decade on the North Side and slashed .272/.372/.489 with 242 home runs, .861 OPS, 130 OPS+ and 784 RBI in 1,308 games. He made three All-Star appearances, won four Gold Gloves, was the 2016 Platinum Glove and a Silver Slugger winner and, of course, was a World Series champion. You could go one for days and still not do justice to what Rizzo did for the Cubs franchise.

As for the others involved in the trade, Na and Cates never made it to the majors and Cashner had an overall decent MLB career. His stint with the Padres was actually pretty good, he pitched to a 3.67 ERA, 3.67 FIP, 1.3 WHIP and 505 strikeouts in 130 appearances from 2011-2016. He then bounced around between the Marlins, Rangers, Orioles and Red Sox from 2016-2019, pitching to very mixed results. Cashner finished his MLB career with a 4.10 ERA, 4.25 FIP, 1.4 WHIP and 901 strikeouts in 1,196 innings.

In the end, it worked out great. It is easy to imagine that some fans were not so high on Rizzo when he first came over, or at least did not want to give up on a big arm like Cashner. Rizzo was an unproven prospect and Cashner at least had some MLB experience.

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While it is sad to know Rizzo is currently no longer a Cub, we can still look and be thankful the Cubs got what was likely his prime years out of him. That’s not to say he will not be productive in the future but the back issues, being on the wrong side of 30 and numbers dipping the past two seasons could indicate a steady decline. Still, Rizzo will forever be a Cubs legend.