I’m not entirely sure why, but pieces like Jonah Keri’s recent 2017 MLB Trade Value Player Rankings have always piqued my interest more than other, similar articles.
Somehow, I think, the value combination of talent and contract has always seemed like the best way to actually compare and contrast various players, as opposed to subjective power rankings (or even more objectively-framed statistical rankings).
To be sure, each plays an important role, but I really have always found this style to be the most intriguing – and that’s probably not because the Cubs just so happen to do quite well on these sorts of lists, given the extreme amount of youthful talent up and down the roster.
Indeed, in Keri’s two-part, 50-player rankings, the Cubs landed themselves seven players. Let’s take a look at Part I (which includes the honorable mentions and other players that just missed) and Part II (which has the Top 50) from a Cubs’ perspective.
Among the players that were honorably mention and/or just missed the cut, specifically, the Cubs landed just one name: Jake Arrieta. He is talented and any team would be thrilled to have him, but with just one more year of team control remaining, his trade value isn’t as high as its ever been. Beyond that, no other Cubs were listed in the just-missed category. Although, it is worth pointing out that Gleyber Torres found himself in the honorable mentions category, which … sigh. That’s obviously quite the endorsement. But let’s continue pretending to forget that the Cubs traded him (or remember what happened next) and move on.
The Top 50 is where it’s at, right?
50. Kyle Schwarber, LF (Prev. 33)
41. Willson Contreras, C (Prev. Unranked)
40. Kyle Hendricks, SP (Prev. Unranked)
23. Addison Russell, SS (Prev. 32)
8. Anthony Rizzo, 1B (Prev. 6)
2. Kris Bryant, 3B (Prev. 5)
No, there was no Javy Baez, but that list isn’t half-bad, is it?
Out of the top fifty most valuable individuals in baseball, the Chicago Cubs have six! If there were an equal distribution, each team would have less than two players … so, yeah they’re doing pretty well. And although Schwarber and Rizzo both dropped from their place in the rankings last season, Contreras, Hendricks, Russell, and Bryant all moved up. And that’s not to mention the fact that Rizzo still ranks among the top 10 and Schwarber missed almost all of last season. (Note: as players get closer to free agency, the tendency would be for them to decrease in trade value.)
Bryant, by the way, took over the number two spot in baseball – which was one ahead of Mike Trout and behind only Corey Seager. But fret not, citing his offense, defense, and base-running abilities, Keri calls Bryant “pretty close to a perfect player.” And as you know, Bryant’s story is almost too good to be true, so “pretty close to perfect” sounds about right.
Now the Cubs just need to get Javy Baez enough playing time to make his way onto the list, and they’ll be all set!
Head over to Sports Illustrated for the entire list, including the rules and structure used in assembling it, as well as a more detailed breakdown of every player that made the cut. As usual, the Cubs bits will make you smile. Part I. Part II.