Padres trade Rizzo to Cubs for power-arm prospect


Andrew Cashner has the potential to vie for a starting role with the San Diego Padres. (Charles Rex Arbogast/AP)

The San Diego Padres have acquired right-handed pitcher Andrew Cashner and outfielder Kyung-Min Na from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for first baseman Anthony Rizzo and right-handed pitcher Zach Cates. This will mark the third time Chicago GM Jed Hoyer has his guy in Rizzo, first with the Boston Red Sox, then with Padres and now with the Cubs.

Anyone surprised?

League executives speculated a Rizzo trade once the Padres acquired top-hitting, MLB-ready prospect Yonder Alonso from the Cincinnati Reds in the Mat Latos blockbuster trade.

Rizzo was clearly overmatched last year upon promotion when he hit an underwhelming .141/.281/.242 line in a 153 plate appearance. However, some have suggested PECTO Park had a lot to do with that. Of course, PETCO is going to effect left-handed, offensive-minded players. But to what degree? According to a recent article on fangraphs.com the home run “park factor” for lefties is 59 at PETCO. Basically, you cut the number of home runs by lefties almost in half when they come to San Diego. Having said that, anyone who was paying attention during Rizzo’s promotion would have told you he was going through a mechanical issue that had more to do with his struggles than anything. Returning to triple-A Tucson, Rizzo then picked back up and was continuing to work on his load, trying to shorten his swing and shoot the ball more to the opposite field. Also, he was leaning over the plate more than he had in his career. Trying to cheat on inside fastballs?

Rizzo hit .331/.404/.652, 26 home runs in 413 plate appearances last year for Tucson. Last year, the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League was arguably one of the worst in recent memory, according to many talent evaluators. Padres GM Josh Byrnes had noted that on top of Rizzo’s struggles upon promotion, along with his reported mechanical issues, there’s a big discrepancy in how the NL West plays compared to the launching pad in triple-A. Hitting in Tucson is almost like playing on the moon. Rizzo was my #1 Padre prospect, pre and post the Yonder Alonso trade, and Baseball America had him as the 75th overall player-prospect coming into 2011. You can check out a scouting report on Rizzo here.

The Padres also gave up Cates, who I liked. His numbers are far from gaudy, but he has potential. Cates, 22, drafted by the Padres in the third round in 2010, went 4-10 with a 4.73 ERA last year in his first year of pro ball. In 118 innings pitched, he struck out 111 batters. Cates’ fastball generally sits between 93-95 mph, but can touch 98 mph. He has a solid change-up and his other secondary breaking pitches are a work in progress. He can lack command of the strike zone. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Cates being the better piece in this deal for the Cubs, years down the road. At worst, I see Cates as being a very affective bullpen arm.

In Cashner, the Padres receive a former first-round pick (19th overall) out of the 2008 amateur draft. Cashner has a big frame at 6′-6″ and 200 lbs, with a solid delivery. The Padres believe he can step in right away and be the seventh- or eighth-inning guy. The Padres also believe Cashner, who has electric stuff and has hit triple digits before, can develop into a top starter. Cashner, when starting, hits between 92-95 mph and can touch 98 mph with his fastball, according to Baseball America. Cashner had a rotator-cuff strain last year, but did pitch well at the end of the season in September. He averaged 95.4 mph with his fastball last year. While he only pitched 10.2 innings, he had an impressive 1.69 ERA. His strikeouts-per-nine-innings is right around eight since his promotion in 2010, when he went 2-6 with a 4.80 ERA in 54.1 innings and struck out 50. Cashner was a top-100 prospect in 2010. The main knock has been his lack of control. With the potential of having two plus pitches in his fastball and slider, with a developing change-up, he could be dominating out of the pen, and he could be solid as a starter moving forward, if he can harness his control. While Cashner has similar stuff to Cates on paper, Andrew’s ceiling is much higher.

Kyung-Min Na, 20, is an athletic outfielder who has played all three spots. He intrigues the Padres. Byrnes had interest in him when he was in Arizona before he signed with the Cubs. He’s small in stature, but the Padres believe he could fill out and gain some extra-base power to utilize his plus speed. He has solid plate disciplined and slaps the ball around from foul pole to foul pole. Some have compared his hitting technique to Ichiro, because he does having moving parts as he loads, and swings almost appearing as if he’s running into the ball. The Padres should also like his ability to hit the ball the other way. As I mentioned before, he lets the ball travel deep into the zone. Accompany that with his plate discipline, quick wrists, solid bat control and plus bat speed, he can be a very pesky hitter. He has plus speed and should be a well-above-average center fielder. He seems to have the range and good reaction for roaming the outfield. He hit.268./358/.312 with 10 2B, 1 3B, 22 RBI, 20 SB in 30 attempts, and 56 K in 269 AB between four leagues in the Cubs system last year.

While I believe the Padres received fair value, this is why I dislike this trade, and it has nothing to do with the player-prospects return:

The Padres received fair value for the #2 ranking internal first baseman on their depth chart. Having said that, continuously dealing away top tier talent for players who may or may not fit PETCO Park is extremely reckless, in my opinion. Trading for a player in an already deep position (first base), such as Alonso, to flip Rizzo, who could have a higher ceiling, is a joke because the front office believes Alonso’s bat could play better in PETCO.

I think both teams win in this trade, but I believe the Padres fan base loses because of how management builds its roster due to the extremities of PETCO.

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  1.  Cashner looks healthy and his hitting triple digits in Spring Training. Could have just replaced Mike Adams, possibly room for grown into a future lights out closer too. They still believe he could possibly develop into a top notch starter as well given his secondary pitches and desire.

  2.  Cashner looks healthy and his hitting triple digits in Spring Training. Could have just replaced Mike Adams, possibly room for grown into a future lights out closer too. They still believe he could possibly develop into a top notch starter as well given his secondary pitches and desire.

  3. Did not get enough for Rizzo? I don’t get the two QB analogy from Byrnes.  Who cares if Rizzo raked in Triple A again and then we dealt them when Jed or Rays were more desperate? Unless Cashner becomes a top tier starter, could have gotten mroe for Rizzo (he’s a top 50 prospect in all of baseball and the most glaring remnant of the Gonzalez deal.)  Don’t understand having to include Cates as well for an OF with no power.

  4. The best team is baseball is a balanced team. Trying to tailor a team to such a limited specific criteria is ridiculous.

    You know my stance regarding the fences, and I know yours. I like the value. I warned fans the Padres might go after a power arm instead of a SS because
    there’s is so few that are elite, and so little matches. So, I like the
    trade, but I dislike dealing players who may have a higher ceiling away
    just because of Petco park. Modify The Fences.

  5. Those are all valid points for moving the fences. I think it was Towers who said the park was bonds proof, yet he featured 2 guys who were LH pull hitters in the middle of the lineup in Giles and klesko. Until they’re moved, let’s not make the same mistake over and over and over. And I have never thought Rizzo is a bust, he’s just not ready for the big show yet. That said, I will be surprised if he hits 300 hrs, which Giles would have easily surpassed if not for Petco.

  6. Obviously management is not ignoring the way the park plays or they wouldn’t be making trades to acquire Alonso and deal Rizzo. Yes, I realize you were screaming Rizzo was a bust before he logged enough MLB Ab’s to be eligible of the rookie of the year voting.

    Losing, is not making a modification to a park to make it neutral that is so extreme. Admittedly made for the steroid era. And admittedly constructed too extreme due to the atmospheric conditions.

    Limiting who the Padres can bring in and attract, draft, retain and flourish is a joke. When the players want to leave their home field to go play on the road, its a joke. When Adrian Gonzalez doesn’t hit a HR after 8 PM in 2010, its a joke. When players like Jason Bartlett and Chris Denorfia, (not exactly power juggernauts) want to get away from Petco park, it’s a problem. Oh, and their line drive hitters. That’s part of the problem also that people dismiss. The psychological affect. It’s huge. If you’re telling me the Padres fan base should settle for every offensive minded player’s stats to be skewed by a ball park, that’s a joke. If you’re telling me the Padres may never see any offensive minded player reach their full potential at HOME, that’s a joke. If you’re telling me the Padres may never have an offensive MVP BECAUSE of the way Petco plays, thats a joke and the biggest unjust in baseball and rip off to the fan base.

    Comparing Rizzo’s power to Giles is a joke. Rizzo had much more power than Giles ever did. Yes, raw power.

    There’s little to no evidence bringing in players who may, or may not play better in Petco will “play Petco into an advantage”. However, there’s a ton of evidence that supports the contrary.

  7. You can call it a joke, but when management ignores the way the home park plays is when the fans lose IMO. Best case scenario for Rizzo in this park as a LH pull hitter is Brian Giles numbers. Getting rid of guys who will struggle here is a necessary step in order for us to have success and play the park to our advantage.

  8. Well, there’s a brief scouting report and background on the players the Padres received in return above.

    I like the value. Would I have preferred a short stop? Sure.

    I have been trying to warn fans not to rule out another pitcher being brought in for sometime.

    I think this trade works well for both teams.

  9. not in love with this trade but I know little about the players we got!!! still I thought we would get alot more for rizzo and unless cashner becomes an ace I think we lose this trade!!

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