[Brett: Thanks for having a post in the can for me, Michael!]
Every July (a.k.a. trade rumor season), FanGraphs releases their trade value rankings from 1-50, including a fair amount of honorable mentions, as well.
The purpose of the project, for those who’ve never seen it, is simple … and put best by FanGraphs Dave Cameron, himself: “The list is an attempt to answer the question of who would bring back the most in trade for his team if he were to be put on the market and made available before the deadline.”
The reason this list is both unique and especially interesting is that unlike your standard power rankings, these rankings weight factors like age, contract length, and price heavily into the conversation. That’s why, as an easy example, Clayton Kershaw (whose contract includes an immediate opt-out after being traded, effectively making him a permanent rental) just misses the cut in the honorable mentions category. Get it? Just because he’s one of the best, doesn’t mean he’s one of the most valuable.
Well, now that the six-part series is complete, it’s worth taking a look at how well the Chicago Cubs are represented. And, as you can probably imagine given their young, cost-controlled core, they’ve done quite well for themselves.
Let’s take a look:
4th (prev. 3rd): Kris Bryant, 3B
8th (prev. 6th): Anthony Rizzo, 1B
19th (unranked): Willson Contreras, C
40th (prev. 31st): Addison Russell, SS
42nd (prev. 25th): Jose Quintana, P
Honorable Mentions: Kyle Schwarber, OF
So the Cubs, then, landed five guys among the top 42 most valuable players in the league, according to trade value, three among the top thirty, and two in the top eight overall. Not bad.
Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo come in for some heavy praise, despite moving back a couple of spots, and, for the first time ever, Willson Contreras cracks the list. Contreras might be the next, biggest, and up-and-coming catcher in baseball. He’s not quite the best of the best just yet, but with the old guard moving on, he’s considered the creme of the crop – a conclusion I also came to recently.
After slow starts, Addison Russell and Jose Quintana each move down on the list, but both are young and destined to remain among the most valuable players for at least a little while longer. Frankly, it’s hard to be depressed by any of the downward movements.
Kyle Schwarber misses the cut, but is given an honorable mention in a section entitled “Some consistency would be nice.”
Ultimately, teams and executive value different players and their contracts independently, so don’t take this list as gospel, but it’s certainly a good start. And, by at least this measure, the Cubs hold some of the most valuable players in baseball.