You might have missed it yesterday in the midst of the hype of the NFL Wild Card weekend but Cubs GM Jed Hoyer and President Theo Epstein pulled off a small heist from former protege Padres GM Josh Bynes, who worked under Theo with the BoSox until 2005. The Cubs acquired slugging 1B Anthony Rizzo, who batted .331/.404/.652 line and hit 26 HRs in 413 PAs for the Padres AAA Tucson affiliate last year. It was something of a reacquisition of Rizzo for Epstein, who you may recall traded him to the Padres last year in the Adrian Gonzalez deal. This comes on the heels of the Carlos Zambrano deal earlier this week, which brought back perpetually disappointing Marlins starter Chris Volstad.
As I detailed in my Trade Match Series piece on Garza, heading into the off season the Cubs needed a 1B, 3B, RF and have numerous spots up for grab in their starting rotation. Rizzo should (eventually) solve their need at First Base, while Volstad takes the place of Zambrano in the Cubs rotation. As things stand currently their rotation (without Garza) would feature Ryan Dempster as their ace, with Chris Volstad, Randy Wells, Rodrigo Lopez and Casey Coleman filling out the starting 5. I think it’s safe to say that even with Garza they’re still nowhere near competing for the NL Central next year, and need to upgrade at least 2 of those rotation slots long term. The package that would now best satisfy their needs would be heavy on pitching, and possibly give them a long term answer at Third and/or RF.
After acquiring Rizzo Cubs GM Jed Hoyer addressed what the team will be looking for going forward:
“At this point, we’re still very much in the process of gathering as many quality arms as we can, and we’ll put those pieces in place as we get closer to Spring Training,” Hoyer said. “We have worked hard, and we continue to work hard, and hopefully we’ll have even more starting-pitching acquisitions….We want to go seven, eight, nine deep in the rotation and we hope to replenish the bullpen as well.”
They won’t fill all their needs by dealing Garza, but will be obviously looking to fill as many as possible. The dumping of Zambrano and acquisition of Rizzo would seem to indicate that their time horizon for competing is 2013 and beyond. Rizzo struggled in his initial call up (.141/.281/.242 153 PAs) with the Padres last year and the Cubs plan is for him to begin the season in the minors. Farmhand Brett Jackson could fill their need in RF, but like Rizzo is expected to begin the year in AAA Iowa.
An updated list of Yankee players that match what the Cubs may be looking for in a Garza deal would be Nick Swisher, Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, Hector Noesi, Brandon Laird, David Phelps, Adam Warren, DJ Mitchell. Given the multiple years of team control on Garza, it is expected that he will bring back at least 2 major pieces in a deal. But moving some of those pieces would trigger additional Yankee moves. Of course, if they trade Swisher they would be looking for an everyday RF. Dealing Laird would mean they need a caddy for A-Rod at 3B. They currently have enough MLB ready depth to give up 2 pitchers in a deal that brings back a starter and still have a few options at AAA in case of injury.
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