Anthony Rizzo flopped in a 49-game debut with the Padres last year, but he’s now crushing Triple-A pitching for the second straight season and the Cubs are starting to think about calling him up.
Rizzo, whom the Cubs acquired from the Padres for Andrew Cashner in January, is hitting .346 with 14 homers and a 1.106 OPS in 41 games at Triple-A after hitting .331 with 26 homers and a 1.056 OPS in 93 games at Triple-A last season.
In other words, there isn’t much left for the 22-year-old to prove in the minors at this point.
One issue is that Rizzo is a first baseman and Cubs first baseman Bryan LaHair has been one of the league’s best hitters so far. LaHair also has some experience in left field and told Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago that he’d be fine switching positions to make room in the lineup, although the Cubs have Alfonso Soriano and his giant contract there right now.
According to Levine no one has approached LaHair about a position switch yet and he hasn’t been getting any work in the outfield, which suggests a move isn’t imminent. It would seemingly make sense to promote Rizzo for the interleague series in Minnesota that begins on June 8, as that would allow the Cubs to use the designated hitter before deciding whether they want to shift LaHair to the outfield full time.
Meanwhile, manager Dave Sveum admitted that calling up Rizzo “is definitely going to be talked about” because “he’s done everything he can down there.”
The Orioles singlehandedly kept the rumor mill churning this weekend. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the club is interested in making a play for free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, adding him to a list of potential candidates that also includes free agent righty Alex Cobb. The two are expected to command similar contracts in free agency, but Morosi notes that the Orioles may prefer Cobb based on his familiarity with the AL East.
Lynn, 30, is two years removed from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Despite missing the 2016 season, he bounced back with a respectable 11-8 record in 33 starts and complemented his efforts with a 3.43 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 186 1/3 innings for the 2017 Cardinals. He lost several days with a blister on his pitching hand in early September, but managed to avoid any major injuries and can reasonably be expected to shoulder another heavy workload in 2018.
Lynn may not be the Orioles’ first choice to beef up their starting rotation, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be in high demand as one of very few viable starters on the market this winter. The veteran righty rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals on Thursday and will likely be seeking a multi-year contract, one that Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch estimates around five years and $100+ million. If the Orioles are willing to bite that bullet, they’ll still need to compensate the Cardinals with their third pick in next year’s draft.