Dodgers Trade Vizcaino to Cubs for Top Prospect
The Dodgers may have filled their hole at second base Friday by acquiring top prospect Greg Smith from the Chicago Cubs for former prospect Jose Vizcaino.
Smith, 23, has played in only 22 major league games over six professional seasons. But scouts and several opposing managers who inquired about him this winter agreed that if it had not been for Ryne Sandberg, he would have been a full-time starter.
“This is a guy who can be our everyday second baseman,” said Fred Claire, Dodger vice president.
Smith’s acquisition could mean the Dodgers believe that free agent Juan Samuel will not accept their one-year contract offer, a decision he must make by Dec. 19. If Samuel does not accept, Smith will compete for the job with Lenny Harris and Mike Sharperson.
The 5-foot-11 Smith is a former second-round draft pick who batted .291 in 105 games for triple-A Iowa last season and .296 for double-A Charlotte in 1989.
In 18 big league games last season, the switch-hitter batted .205, giving him a career .224 average with no home runs and seven runs batted in.
“He is hard-nosed, he is a battler, he runs well . . . Everybody we talk to likes him a lot,” Claire said.
They used to say those things about Vizcaino, 22, who has been with the Dodgers since signing in 1987. He and Jose Offerman were once projected as the double-play combination of the future.
But despite a .275 average in 37 games last season, Vizcaino did not impress Dodger officials with his hitting. Despite his speed, he has just two extra-base hits in 61 major league at-bats.
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