My take on the Anthony Rizzo/Andrew Cashner swap is decidedly rotten. I figured it’d be interesting to gather the opinions of the rest of Friar Forecast on the deal. Chris Kelly will have his analysis as part of his Monday article, but here’s what Daniel, Scott, and Ben thought about the trade.

Daniel Gettinger

In swapping Anthony Rizzo and Zach Cates for Andrew Cashner and Kyung-Min Na, the San Diego Padres made a trade that is difficult to defend.

To see why, let’s make a few assumptions, that would seemingly tilt the deal in the Padres favor:

1) Anthony Rizzo profiles similarly to Adam LaRoche, a solid but highly replaceable first baseman.

* As Myron already outlined, although Rizzo is not a perfect prospect, he is relatively young, has had great success in the minor leagues, and is still highly rated by scouting gurus such as John Sickels. Prior to his 2011 campaign, in which he hit .331/.404/.652 in AAA, Geoff Young suggested Adam LaRoche as a good comp. for Rizzo. Although Rizzo struggled in his small sample of major league at-bats, his AAA performance suggests, in expectation, he still profiles to be at least as good as Adam LaRoche.

2) Andrew Cashner will quickly develop into a hard-throwing top flight reliever such as a Jonathan Broxton.

* Upon first hearing about the trade, my initial thought was, “somebody in the Padres organization clearly thinks Cashner can be a number two starter,” but reports since the trade suggest the Padres view Cashner as a reliever, with only the possibility of him becoming a starter in the future. Therefore, lets say the best case scenario is for Cashner to pitch top-notch ball out of the bullpen immediately, and do so for a number of years.

3) Zach Cates is no better a prospect than Kyung-Min Na.

* There are few (if any) favorable scouting reports on Na, while Cates seems to have some potential. For the sake of argument, lets say that Na and Cates are equivalent prospects.

Operating under these assumptions, and the fact that teams have six years of control until a player reaches free agency, the Padres, at best traded the first six years of Adam LaRoche’s career for years 2-6 of Jonathan Broxton’s career (Cashner already has over one year of service time).

Below is a table outlining the WAR (according to Fangraphs) accumulated by LaRoche (2004-2009) and Broxton (2006-2011) in their first 6 years.

LaRoche Broxton
Year 1 0.9 N/A
Year 2 -1.2 2.0
Year 3 2.5 2.2
Year 4 2.3 2.8
Year 5 1.5 1.1
Year 6 2.4 -0.3
TOTAL 8.4 7.8

With the exception of 2011, Broxton was about as good as a reliever can be in his 2-6 years, and he was still worth less in terms of WAR than Adam LaRoche in his first six years.

My assumptions were very favorable for the Padres in that they limited Rizzo’s upside to Adam LaRoche, assumed Andrew Cashner will be as good of a reliever as Jonathan Broxton, and ignored that Cates is likely a better prospect than Na. Even with these assumptions in place, trading Anthony Rizzo for Andrew Cashner appears to be at best an even deal.

Unless the Padres (and the rest of major league baseball) believe Anthony Rizzo’s upside is that of Adam LaRoche, and Rizzo comes with considerable downside risk as well, the Padres could have received greater value by holding out for a different deal.

Scott Tanderup (also posted on Scott’s blog)

A lot of initial fan backlash on this trade. I don’t have a huge problem with this trade and may actually like it. It is clear from the Latos and now Rizzo trade that a top middle infield prospect that is close to ML ready is just not available. There is such a huge drop in talent from guys like Machado and Profar to the next level of middle infield prospect. Some fans wanted Wade Davis from the Rays. Why? I wouldn’t put him ahead of Anthony Bass on the depth chart.

The biggest argument against this trade is from a “value” standpoint. Clearly, the Cubs valued Cashner very highly or Cates would not have been added. Many fans feel Rizzo has far more “value” than Cashner.

What I like about this trade is that the Padres get a reliever that should be very effective at Petco in 2012 and still control him for several more years as they work to figure out what Cashner’s real future is. Cashner has solid stuff and a plus-plus fastball. His control has been improving each year and now he has a chance to work with Black and Balsley. The Padres essentially are getting a solid late inning relief guy with elite starter upside. The one thing the Padres deep stable of pitching prospects has lacked is an “elite” upside pitcher that is ML ready or close to ML ready. You could make an argument that Cashner has the best “stuff” of any Padres player or prospect. This represents the beginning of the next “phase” in the Padres future… acquiring and drafting “elite” upside players. I think you will see the trend continue in the 2012 draft. The days of drafting safe college players are behind the Padres.

Byrnes, in my opinion, has done an excellent job of continuing the movement for the future while simultaneously putting together a team in 2012 that may surprise. Cashner fits both the “win now” and “build for the future” scenarios.

I realize I may be in the minority, but they had the depth to take the gamble.

Ben Davey

I am not a big fan of the trade. Both Rizzo and Cashner have question marks. However, if both pan out, Rizzo’s value as an all-star first basemen far outweigh that of a  closer. Would you trade Ryan Howard for Jonathon Broxton? Didn’t think so.