The Andrew Cashner for Anthony Rizzo deal has been a hot topic this season with the apparent Cashner breakout, and the Cubs have received their fair share of backlash for the deal, but was it really a bad deal like some media outlets have made it seem? I’m not too sure.
In 2013, Andrew Cashner had the breakout season that fans had been hoping for. Cashner finally faced his biggest flaw, and he pitched 175 innings for the Padres and finished his first full major league season with an ERA just over 3. Many pundits hyped Cashner as their breakout pick for this season, but Cashner’s real breakout was in 2013. He settled right into the spacious confines of Petco Park and was able to limit the home runs and post the lowest walk rates of his career throughout the majors and the minors. Cashner’s newfound dominance has certainly left Cubs fans a bit upset with what they gave away, but were they completely unwise in moving him? I don’t think so. We have to remember that through his short career the 27 year old has already battled through many season ruining injuries, including damage to his rotator cuff.
Anthony Rizzo has unfortunately not quite made the impression on his organization that Cashner has as he is coming into his third year with the Cubs. While the first basemen showed definite promise in his first sample with the team in 2012, 2013 was a massive step backwards as Rizzo was overburdened by an increased strikeout rate and some of the worst platoon splits in the major leagues. While the 24 year old has started the 2014 campaign off rather strong, it is understandably tough to completely shake off his struggles last season.
While Cashner has clearly been the better big leaguer so far, we shouldn’t be so quick to judge the front office for this move just yet. Remember, Cashner already has a history of injury, and if nothing else, the start to this season should tell you that pitchers get hurt. Even if Rizzo is merely a slightly above average first basemen, he still has far more certainty to stay on the field than Cashner will.
So while I understand the desire to go blast the front office for this deal, maybe you shouldn’t just go freak out about one year of numbers just yet. Both of these players have a few seasons of control left to be judged for, so wait a bit for calling this trade a total abortion. Remember, even if Rizzo isn’t great, if Cashner blows out his shoulder again would you really rather have kept him?