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Padres Trade Anthony Rizzo to the Cubs

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It was bound to happen, and it finally did.  The Padres sent Anthony Rizzo and Zach Cates to the Chicago Cubs for Andrew Cashner and Kyung-Min Na.  It’s a move that was expected for weeks, but perhaps the return isn’t what many fans expected.  With how much teams were clamoring over Anthony Rizzo, the interest from multiple teams, and the fact that Theo and friends in Chicago drafted Rizzo, it seemed the Padres would command a large return for him.

That is not to say the trade today was insignificant.  The Padres are getting a potential future starter in Cashner and a speed-threat outfield prospect in Na.  According to Corey Brock of Padres.com, “the Padres are hopeful that Cashner, who began last season as the Cubs’ fifth starter but missed most of the season with a rotator cuff issue, can be their eighth-inning specialist with the potential of moving into the rotation later.”  Na, on the other hand is a wild card.  He is just 20 years old and was signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2009.

Let the analysis begin.  First, here are Cashner’s Major League number:

Cashner has a high upside, but the shoulder injury has to be of some concern to San Diego.  He experience right shoulder pain after his first start of 2011, was eventually diagnosed with a rotator cuff strain, and was shelved the rest of the season.  He did attempt to come back last season, but a May set-back forced him to focus on rehab the rest of the year.  The plus is that he didn’t require surgery.  The minus is that he is just 25 and already experiencing shoulder issues.  This could be a fluke, or it could be a result of his minor league workload:

In 2009, Cashner started 24 games, then started 12 in 2010, and finally he started 3 in 2011 during his rehab stints in 2011.  So what exactly does Cashner have going for him?

In 2008, The Hardball Times released their scouting report on the recent draft picks.  That scouting report included an analysis of Cashner.  Here’s some of what they had to say:

"Cashner reportedly has pushed his velocity from the low 90s all the way up to the 96–98 mph range, but the video provided of Cashner had him throwing between 92 and 94."

The analysis went on to talk about his “stuff”:

"Fastball – Cashner’s one true plus pitch: a fastball that he can now get up to 98 mph with decent movement, though it can straighten out at times. The fastball below is clocked at 92, so you can see how difficult it would be to hit with another 4-6 mph on it. I still need to see his fastball in the mid-to-upper 90’s before giving it a plus-plus rating.Slider – Cashner uses a hard biting slider that profiles as an above-average-to-plus pitch. There can be some problems in commanding the pitch, but when he’s on, it complements his fastball extremely well."

Cashner also features a change-up which he displayed in his short time with the Cubs, but these pitches were not analyzed by THT back in 2008.  Overall, he has some potential to be a number 3 or 4 starter, but his highest potential may end up being out of the bullpen.  He’s the type of player that can come into tight situations and rely on his fastball to shut batters down.

According to Fangraphs, Cashner relied on his fastball 68.7% of the time in 2010, his slider 23.1% of the time, and his change-up just 8.2% of the time.  In his short time during the 2011 season (10.2 innings), Cashner kept his fastball usage about the same at 70.7%, he reduced his slider usage to 19.0%, and increased his change-up usage slightly to 10.2%.

He proved with the Cubs that he could hit the upper 90’s with his fastball.  He averaged 96.3 MPH in 2010 and 95.4 MPH in 2011.  His change-up drops drastically in speed which should help Cashner greatly if he can control it.  His average change-up speed in 2010 was 86.7 MPH and in 2011 was 86.0 MPH.

In all, Cashner figure to play a large role with the Padres.  What that role is will still need to be determined.  Spring Training should help the Padres decide how to use him.  I would be very surprised, however, if Cashner was not on the Opening Day roster.

Now, take a deep breath.  Let’s move on to Na’s numbers:

We have a lot less to go on with Na as he has yet to break into the Majors.  At just 20 years old though, that’s to be expected.  Here’s what we can tell with his minor league numbers; he’s got the ability to steal bases, but needs to cut down on the number of times he gets caught, he needs to get closer to his Arizona Rookie League OBP if he wants to reach the big leagues anytime soon, and he is absolutely not a power threat.

Baseball Prospectus offered the following report on Na today:

"A Korean import, Na is a very good athlete that plays solid defense in the outfield with plus instincts, above-average to plus speed and good routes to the ball. His arm is average but plays up a bit because of a quick release.Na has good contact ability but lacks the strength to drive the ball. Though he commands the strike zone well, Na will have to add strength for his natural hitting ability to play at higher levels. If he can do that, he could be a solid hitter with gap power and an intelligent approach to his time in the batter’s box."

Based on the little information available, Na profiles as a lead-off hitter.  However, his OBP is going to need to increase quite a bit.  Na put up the following BB% at each level of minor league ball between 2010 and 2011: 10.1%, 12.6%, 10.2%, and 9.0%.  If he can get that percentage up over 12% consistently, he should see his OBP climb.

We know what the Padres gave up in Rizzo, but what did they give up in Cates?  Cates was drafted in the third round of the 2010 draft by the Padres.  He pitched in 25 games for A-ball affiliate Fort Wayne in 2011.  During his time there, he mediocre numbers.  His ERA was 4.73 and his WHIP was 1.356.  His one interesting stat was hi K/9 ratio of 8.5.  That’s an above average figure if he can continue it through the Majors.  However, his BB/9 of 4.0 almost negates any benefit earned from the strikeouts.  Here’s the report on Cates from Baseball Prospectus:

"Cates rounds out the package for the Cubs and he offers big time arm strength having run his fastball up to the mid-90s with some life. A converted catcher he has taken to the mound quickly and developed feel for a change-up that shows above-average potential at times. His breaking ball is still a work in progress."

In all, the trade has its positives and its negatives.  I’m sure most people would have liked the Padres to get some middle infield help, but the fact is Orlando Hudson and Jason Bartlett aren’t going anywhere.  Even still, many were expecting a higher profile Major League talent in exchange for Rizzo.  However, Cashner has enough upside to overcome the limited time he has seen in the Majors.  If he can earn a starting job with the Padres, it’s a huge win for the club.  If he becomes a reliable bullpen arm, the trade still ends in a plus for San Diego.  Cashner is not arbitration eligible until 2014.  That give San Diego some time to truly evaluate his ability before having to commit very much money to him.

In the end, the Anthony Rizzo-mania San Diego once felt was short-lived.  It’s time to turn the page, focus on the incredible stock-pile of young talent the Padres now have, and it’s time to focus on 2012’s opening day roster.