Get excited, Cubs fans. For once this year.
According to beat writer Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune, “speculation is” that the Northsiders are preparing to promote 22-year-old first base prospect Anthony Rizzo from Triple-A Iowa in time for Tuesday night’s game against the Mets.
Rizzo has registered a sparkling .355/.416/.722 batting line with 23 home runs and 62 RBI in 67 games this season at Iowa. The Florida native was selected in the sixth round of the 2007 MLB Amateur Draft by the Red Sox, then traded to San Diego in 2010 as part of the Adrian Gonzalez blockbuster. The Cubs acquired him this past winter for flame-thrower Andrew Cashner and outfielder Kyung-Min Na.
Rizzo struggled mightily in his first taste of the majors last season, hitting just .141 with a .523 OPS across 153 plate appearances for the Padres. He’ll hope for much better results in his second MLB experience.
“I don’t think I’ve really been around anyone who has had this much hype,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum told the Tribune on Saturday evening. “”The 30 days or so in spring training, he seemed to be a guy very ahead of the game, maturity-wise. He has all those leadership skills. We’ll all have to be a little bit patient and understand the game is a lot different here than it is in Triple-A. … He’s confident.”
The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.
Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.
As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.