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Cubs acquire Anthony Rizzo from Padres in 4-player deal

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Updated: January 6, 2012 4:07PM

Unconvinced that Andrew Cashner is the future starting ace the Cubs’ former regime envisioned, the new regime on Friday traded the organization’s top young pitcher to the San Diego Padres in a four-player deal that landed two of the Padres’ top prospects – including powerful first baseman Anthony Rizzo.

Rizzo, 22, is a 6-foot-3 left-handed hitter with high on-base potential who hit 26 home runs with 101 RBIs and a 1.056 OPS for AAA Tucson last season despite making a six-week big-league debut in the middle of the season (.141, one homer).

Rizzo, originally a sixth-round draft pick by the Boston Red Sox, was a key part of the trade that sent first baseman Adrian Gonzalez from San Diego to Boston 13 months ago.

Cubs’ GM Jed Hoyer said Rizzo will start the season in AAA.

Cashner is the second Cubs first-round draft pick – and third touted prospect – in a month to be traded away, including 2006 first-rounder Tyler Colvin and 2009 second-rounder DJ LeMahieu, who both went to Colorado in the Ian Stewart trade.

Cashner, the 19th overall pick in 2008, spent almost all of the season on the disabled list in 2011 after suffering a shoulder strain in April during his first start after converting from a successful big-league debut as a reliever in ’10.

Since his late-season return to the mound, he quickly regained his upper-90s fastball, but his status for next season’s staff was considered unclear even before the trade.

The Cubs also acquired pitching prospect Zach Cates, 22, a right-hander Cubs executives Hoyer and Jason McLeod drafted in 2010 while with the Padres – paying him over-slot bonus money to sign him after signability concerns dropped the coveted pitcher to the third round. Cates went 4-10 with a 4.73 ERA last season in the Class A Midwest League, striking out 111 in 118 innings (53 walks).

The Cubs also sent outfield prospect Kyung-Min Na, 20, to the Padres in the four-player trade.

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