Padres Avoid Position Controversy
Rizzo shipped to Chicago after Alonso acquisition
SAN DIEGO—When the Padres acquired Yonder Alonso from the Reds in December, it was clear that Anthony Rizzo's days in San Diego were numbered.
Rizzo, the organization's No. 1 prospect and the key player in the trade that sent first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox last offseason, was a major hit in the minor leagues in 2011, hitting .331/.404/.652 with 34 doubles, 26 homers and 101 RBIs in 93 games at Triple-A Tucson. He struggled in the big leagues, hitting .141 with a homer and nine RBIs in 49 games.
With Alonso, another lefthanded-hitting first baseman, in hand following the Mat Latos deal with Cincinnati, on Jan. 6, the Padres dealt Rizzo to the Cubs for hard-throwing righthander Andrew Cashner and minor league outfielder Kyung-Min Na. The Cubs are led by Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod, the men who drafted Rizzo out of high school and traded for him when both worked for the Padres.
"There was plenty of interest in Rizzo," said Padres general mamager Josh Byrnes. "Some teams didn't match with what we were looking for. This deal made the most sense."
Some people asked why the Padres didn't go to spring training with both Rizzo and Alonso, and let them battle it out with the best man winning.
"I didn't want to go into spring training with a quarterback-controversy type thing," Byrnes said. "You have two young, quality hitters here, so there will be a fair baseball debate. We feel Alonso is a little farther along and fits our ballpark better.
"Rizzo fit their need, and we really like Cashner."
A first-round pick out of Texas Christian in 2008, Cashner has a fastball clocked at 100 mph. He has appeared in 60 major league games, but only seven of those came last season after he strained the right rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder.
• Na, 20, was the other player acquired in the Rizzo deal. A native of South Korea, he signed with the Cubs as a free agent in 2009. He has played 149 games in the minors.
• The Padres also sent righthander Zach Cates to the Cubs in the Rizzo deal. Cates was a third-round pick in 2010. He was 4-10, 4.73 ERA in 118 innings at low Class A Fort Wayne last season.