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Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo will be among Chicago’s trade chips at the deadline. Could he return to where it all began in Boston?
Fourteen years ago, former Red Sox executive Theo Epstein drafted first baseman Anthony Rizzo out of Stoneman-Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Rizzo beat cancer roughly one year later and quickly rose through Boston’s farm system rankings. He would eventually become a top prospect and was traded to San Diego in a deal involving Adrian Gonzalez during the 2011 offseason.
Fast forward to 2012, Epstein starts a new job in Chicago and one of his first moves involves trading starting pitcher Andrew Cashner in a deal to reunite with Rizzo.
The big lefty made a name for himself as a fan favorite amongst the Cubs faithful, making three All-Star appearances, winning four Gold Gloves, and he was on the receiving end of the final out during the 2016 season.
The magical run for Rizzo and his fellow teammates appear to be coming to an end with the Cubs moving towards the direction as sellers for the July 30 trade deadline. Among the teams that may inquire about Rizzo’s availability is the team who drafted him, the Red Sox.
Rizzo has been hampered by some back issues this season, slashing .247/.343/.432 with 10 home runs and 33 RBIs in 315 plate appearances. He’s in the final year of a $16.5 million deal, so he’d only be a rental.
Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo could be a Red Sox trade target
His numbers and contract situation could be beneficial if the Red Sox are looking towards a low-risk, high-reward type of move. He’d still be considered an upgrade over current first baseman Bobby Dalbec who has posted a .221 batting average and .684 OPS.
On paper, it shouldn’t require more than a lesser-regarded prospect or two, but it’s going to depend on how much money in Rizzo’s remaining deal is involved.
According to Baseball Trade Valuessimulator, the following trade involving Boston’s prospects pitcher Tanner Houck, outfielder Nick Decker, and cash considerations is seen as “accepted” for both sides in exchange for Rizzo.
Tanner Houck, RHP (No.6)
Nick Decker, OF (No.23)
Red Sox Get
Anthony Rizzo, 1B
Neither player is ranked in MLB’s Top-100. Houck is No.6 and Decker is No.23 in the Red Sox system. Overall, MLB Pipeline ranked Boston with the 24th-best farm in the majors just prior to the regular season.
Houck, 25, has made six big-league appearances (five starts), over the last two seasons while posting a 1.98 ERA, 1.452 WHIP, and 10.5 K/9 rate over 27.1 innings pitched. He’s currently at the Red Sox Triple-A affiliate but has been limited to three appearances due to a flexor strain injury.
Decker, 20, has split time between Rookie Ball and Single-A and slashed .227/.363/.424 with two homers and nine RBIs in 80 plate appearances this season.
The most important factor in this deal will come down to which team is willing to take on the bulk or the entirety of Rizzo’s remaining salary. If the Cubs choose to do it, the better the return for prospects. If it’s the Red Sox, they won’t have to part ways with their best young assets.