As Anthony Rizzo, the Cubs’ prized first base prospect that came over in a trade with San Diego this offseason,
continues to destroy Pacific Coast League pitching, the club was faced with a problem. They have Bryan LaHair, a solid first baseman in his own right, playing first base. The Cubs seem committed to Rizzo, and they’ve made it clear in the past they think Rizzo could be a future Gold Glove-winning first baseman. So, with that in mind, the trade speculation began surrounding LaHair. That speculation may be over.
According to Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune, the Cubs plan to use Bryan LaHair in tandem with David DeJesus in right field everyday. Should this happen, there will be an opening for Rizzo. The concern with LaHair was his ability to play right field. He can play left field, but Alfonso Soriano is currently occupying that spot. After last night’s game, it seems clear that LaHair can play right.
LaHair, facing high winds at US Cellular on the south side of Chicago, was able to haul in a very difficult ball struck by the White Sox Gordon Beckham. He looked like he had no trouble adjusting to right field.
LaHair was making his rounds on the rumor mill because of his potential. He is hitting .295/.375/.563 with 13 home runs this season. The Cubs did not ever want to trade him, but they would have if they were forced to choose between him and Rizzo. Now they don’t have to.
Theo Epstein said of their situation, ”We need to build assets because we don’t have enough of them. We’re not going to look past one that might be sitting right there in our organization.”
Anthony Rizzo is hitting .360/.421/.733 with 23 home runs for Triple-A Iowa. He’s earned the chance to prove last season with the Padres was a fluke. Given time at in Chicago, Rizzo should outperform the San Diego version of himself by leaps and bounds. The Cubs can call him up on Saturday and Rizzo will still fall under the 171 days of Major League service time thus pushing his first free agency year out to 2018. It essentially gives the Cubs one more year of service time from Rizzo without a contract extension.
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