In the aftermath of the Cincinnati Reds trade for Matt Latos, the Chicago Cubs may once again be in a good position to land a young power hitting left handed first baseman. Hold your horses Cub fans, I am not talking about Prince Fielder, even though every media outlet continues to stand firm in their belief that they are the front runners to land the slugger. The power hitting left handed first baseman is San Diego Padres own Anthony Rizzo, who has become a tempting target for many ball clubs across the major leagues now that he has been bumped down to third or fourth on the depth chart at first base for the Padres behind Jesus Guzman and now Yonder Alonso who came back in the trade of Latos.
The reason the Cubs are coming in as a primary trade target for Rizzo is two fold. First and foremost, both Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are very familiar with this kid, and how much potential he has. People may forget, that Rizzo was originally in the Boston Red Sox organization, and was a player who was drafted by Epstein in the sixth round of the 2007 draft. Rizzo is also a player that Hoyer coveted when he was General Manager of the Padres, and was a key part of the trade that sent Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox. The history of both Cubs front office executives may be why the rumors are surfacing on every media outlet, including the Cubs very own Carrie Muskat.
Another reason why this trade would work, is due to the Padres desire to land Matt Garza who the Cubs are seemingly very anxious to deal. I had originally thought the main piece on the Cubs side for Rizzo would have been top prospect Brett Jackson, but that has been humbled do to the latest rumors. Up until last night when the Padres interest in Garza surfaced, the main team mentioned in trade talks with the Cubs for him had been the Texas Rangers, who have yet to make a strong enough offer to close the deal. What may transpire in the Cubs rumored quest to bring Rizzo to Chicago could turn into a three team trade.
While the Padres have a very strong interest in Garza, in a three team trade I would not be surprised to see him land with the Rangers. The Cubs would receive a couple prospects from both teams, including Rizzo) while they send Garza to the Rangers who would send a couple prospects to the Padres. Perhaps the Cubs would need to send a mid level prospect to the Padres as well, but this is a scenario I could easily see panning out as the Padres are lacking the desired finances to be able to afford a pitcher who may be making upwards towards the $10 Million Garza is expected to make in Arbitration this off season. The trade of Latos was to get rid of some salary as well as restock their farm system, adding a pitcher who is more expensive would not make a lot of sense.
A trade of Garza for Rizzo would pan out with the thought process of a Garza trade and a Fielder signing go hand in hand. I have felt for a long time that if Fielder was signed, that Garza would not be traded. At the same time, if Garza was traded you would almost have to count the Cubs out of the Fielder sweepstakes. The Cubs could very well prove both ideas true with the rumored traded of Garza for Rizzo.
If the Cubs are indeed in full rebuild mode, getting a young first baseman without giving up any of their top young prospects make a lot of sense even if they are giving up Garza in the deal.