Mike Piellucci of VICE Sports spoke to Cubs GM Jed Hoyer and former Padres GM Josh Byrnes (now a senior VP with the Dodgers) about the 2011 trade that sent Anthony Rizzo and minor league pitcher Zach Cates from San Diego in exchange for right-hander Andrew Cashner and minor league outfielder Kyung-Min Na. Hoyer explains to Piellucci that his immediate thought upon hearing that the Padres had acquired Yonder Alonso (then one of the game’s top overall prospects) from the Reds was that Rizzo could be available. Hoyer expected significant competition, but Byrnes tells Piellucci that there wasn’t an aggressive market for Rizzo following his 2011 debut, during which he batted just .141/.281/.242. Per Byrnes, the Padres felt that Rizzo’s best assets could be dampened by the pitcher-friendly Petco Park. Cashner was an appealing young arm himself at the time and pitched quite well in 2013-14 for San Diego (2.87 ERA in 298 1/3 innings), but his injuries and inconsistencies went on to make the swap one of the most lopsided-looking trades in recent history, even if one can see the reasoning behind it. As Piellucci notes, the potential for one team to come away looking especially bad is why prospect-for-prospect “challenge” trades of this nature happen so rarely. I’d highly recommend reading the column in its entirety, even for non-Cubs and non-Padres fans.
A few more notes from around the league…
- The Red Sox lack sufficient depth to safeguard them from injuries to their position players, opines WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. While jack of all trades Brock Holt can serve as a safety net at a number of positions, he’s not exactly an offensive force. Beyond him, the top outfield alternative following an injury would be Bryce Brentz, who hasn’t excelled at Triple-A or in the Majors. Sam Travis represents an option for some power at first base/DH if needed, but he’s coming off a torn ACL. Elsewhere in the infield, Marco Hernandez and Deven Marrero both represent largely unproven options. Beyond those names, Boston’s top alternatives might be Rusney Castillo and Allen Craig, neither of whom has had any recent success, even in the minor leagues. Bradford notes that the Red Sox are still monitoring the free-agent market and adds Adam Rosales’ name to the previously reported Trevor Plouffe as depth options. Certainly, Boston has options in Brentz, Hernandez, Marrero, etc., but I’d agree with Bradford’s general assessment that some additional depth to beef up the bench would be in the club’s best interest.
- Though Marlins president of baseball ops Michael Hill recently suggested that adding a right-handed platoon option for Justin Bour at first base isn’t a priority, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes that the team is still likely to add such a player. Miami isn’t closed off to the idea of re-signing Chris Johnson despite the veteran’s struggles in 2016, he notes. They’ve also checked in on some bigger fish (terrible pun intended — my apologies) like Mike Napoli, but that type of move isn’t considered likely, and Miami is not pursuing Napoli at this time. (Napoli is instead reportedly working on a two-year deal with the Rangers.) Bour will get some more looks against lefties this year, but he hasn’t hit them at all in his brief MLB chances (110 plate appearances, .221/.273/.291 slash, zero homers). Jackson notes that J.T. Realmuto will see some time at first base in 2017 on days when A.J. Ellis starts behind the plate (presumably against lefties). From my vantage point, both Adam Rosales and Trevor Plouffe make quite a bit of sense for the Marlins in that capacity.
- The Orioles are maintaining interest in free agent outfielders Michael Saunders, Rajai Davis, Angel Pagan and Michael Bourn, writes MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko. Among internal candidates, Dariel Alvarez is a candidate to get one last chance to convince the O’s he can be a productive Major Leaguer, but he’s also a candidate to come off the 40-man roster should the Orioles sign someone from outside the organization, Kubatko adds. Alvarez hit .288/.324/.384 with four homers in 560 plate appearances as a 27-year-old at Triple-A this past season but has had a strong showing in the Venezuelan Winter League. Signed out of Cuba back in 2013, Alvarez has an underwhelming .725 OPS in parts of three Triple-A seasons, though Kubatko notes that the Orioles continue to be intrigued by his “plus-plus arm.”