12/18 Could Rizzo be 1B of future?
Forget Prince Fielder. Maybe the Cubs’ first baseman of the future is Anthony Rizzo.
Rizzo was a sixth-round pick in 2007 by the Red Sox — and Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod were in Boston’s front office at that time. In December 2010, he was dealt to the Padres in the blockbuster Adrian Gonzalez deal. Now, Rizzo, 22, finds himself No. 3 or 4 on the Padres’ depth chart at first base after a major deal Saturday between the Padres and Reds. The Padres acquired first baseman Yonder Alonso, pitcher Edinson Volquez and Minor Leaguers Yasmani Grandal and Brad Boxberger in exchange for pitcher Mat Latos. Latos joins Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey, Bronson Arroyo and Mike Leake in the Reds rotation. Reds GM Walt Jocketty says they still plan on using Aroldis Chapman as a starter, although that could change.
This year, Rizzo batted .452 with six homers in his first 15 games and was eventually called up to the Padres in June, and batted .143 in 35 games. He was then recalled in September and finished with a .141 average in 49 games. At Triple-A Tucson, he hit .331 with 26 homers and 101 RBIs. Rizzo and Tony Campana have something in common, as Rizzo was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in May 2008 and was successfully treated with chemotherapy. McLeod once said Rizzo has the best makeup of any player he’s ever drafted.
On Saturday, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com and MLB Network Radio tweeted that the Padres have some interest in acquiring Matt Garza from the Cubs in a package that would include Rizzo. The problem with a Padres-Cubs deal involving Garza is that the right-hander is under team control for two more years, and if the Cubs were to move him, they’d expect a lot in return — similar to what the Reds gave up to get Latos. Epstein has said Garza is the type of pitcher to build around.
Or, the Cubs could give Bryan LaHair the first base job. LaHair hit a two-run homer, his 10th, in Magallanes’ 8-0 win over Caribes on Saturday in Venezuelan Winter League play.
– Carrie Muskat