The deal is done. Aroldis Chapman comes to Chicago while Gleyber Torres, Adam Warren, Billy McKinney, and Rashad Crawford head to New York. The Cubs get a reliever for two and a half months while the Yankees get one of their own back, plus the Cubs’ top prospect, a hitter built for Yankee Stadium in McKinney, and an up-and-coming prospect in Crawford. It’s a deal tilted towards the Yankees for now and in the future.
The Cubs’ minor league system looks quite different than it did a week ago. I remember thinking Baseball America was lowballing it when they ranked the Cubs as having the #20 organization in baseball. I thought the Cubs should have been ranked somewhere between 12 and 15. Now, however, 20 looks a little more reasonable.
In the past week, five names have come off MLB.com’s Top 30 list and my own Top 21, including three of the top five. Torres and McKinney were just shipped to the Yankees and Dan Vogelbach went to the Mariners last week for lefty reliever Mike Montgomery. Albert Almora and Willson Contreras are still with the Cubs, they just graduated from prospect status.
Depth has always been the key to the Cubs’ rankings in the past, but all that is left of the system after these trades is basically a lot of very young players. There’s hope, it’s just going to take probably two years to rebuild. The Cubs should have a first round pick and possibly a compensatory pick for a free agent who signs elsewhere (Dexter?). However, they will not be able to sign any high-value international free agents until 2018.
High impact talent missing
The Cubs only have a couple of position players who have the ability to hit for both average and power. Eloy Jimenez and Ian Happ fit that description, but the pickings are slim after that. While Jeimer Candelario would be next, his odds of staying with the club are similar to what Vogelbach’s were. Eddy Martinez has the potential for power, he just needs to keep figuring out how to hit at this level.
When it comes to pitchers who could really blossom into something special, Dylan Cease and Oscar de la Cruz fit that bill. Trevor Clifton and Tom Hatch could be too, and Duane Underwood was on the list before injuries put his starting career on the back burner. The Cubs do have several good young arms down in the lower levels of the system with definite out pitches, it’s just that they are still at least a year away from becoming top prospects.
The Cubs had a lot of high-value hitting prospects at one point, but most of them are now at the major league level. They still have yet to develop a starting pitcher from the draft in Epstein’s tenure, but this trade effectively flip-flops the scales. That’s to say the Cubs may now have a higher concentration of good arms than they do bats.
There are a lot of players in their late teens who could develop into high-impact players, just that a lot of things have to go right for that to happen over the next two years.
Some names to consider in two years
Pitchers: Javier Assad, Jose Albertos, Jesus Castillo, Manny Rondon, Erling Moreno, Jose Paulino, Preston Morrison, Kyle Miller, Brailyn Marquez, and Faustino Carrera
The system is not down and out, though it has taken a hit and it will take some time to rebuild into one of MLB’s best. The maturation of some of the names above will be substantial enough for the Cubs to be a top ten system by 2018. For now, however, there’s a huge gap in talent after the top ten prospects.
The Cubs will still be producing MLB talent until the next wave is ready in 2018-19. Along with Candelario, Mark Zagunis is close. If he were healthy, Ryan Williams would be knocking on the door.
As for the return they got in exchange for dipping into the prospect pool, it’s going to take me some time to wrap my brain about Mr. Chapman being on the Cubs.