In 2014, the Chicago Cubs finished with a final record of 73-89, which set them up with the 9th overall pick in the 2015 June Amateur draft – a pick they used to select the versatile switch-hitter Ian Happ. Happ, 24, has already launched 39 homers in the big leagues and been worth 3.3 WAR over his first 1.5 big league seasons. He was a very good pick. The best pick available using hindsight? No. But a good pick with plenty of upside remaining.
And that was the last time the Cubs picked among the top 20. In 2015, the Cubs finished 97-65, they followed that up with a 103-58 season in 2016 (you might remember that year), and 92-70 last season. Here’s when their first picks were in each of those seasons:
2016: Round 3, Pick #104 – Thomas Hatch
2017: Round 1, Pick#27 – Brendon Little
2017: Comp Round, Pick #30 – Alex Lange
2018: Round 1, Pick #24 – Nico Hoerner
In 2016, their first pick didn’t come until the third round because they signed multiple free agents tied to draft pick compensation. And in 2017, they effectively got two first round picks, because someone else signed their free agent tied to draft pick compensation. Of those four players. Nico Hoerner probably remains the most exciting, but Alex Lange had a very good first full season (23 starts, 3.74 ERA, 3.47 FIP), while Hatch and Little still have big league potential.
But now that – sigh – the 2018 season is over for the Cubs, and they finished with a final record of 95-68, it’s worth checking on the status of their 2019 draft pick. Here’s the order for next season:
- Orioles (47-115)
- Royals (58-104)
- White Sox (62-100)
- Marlins (63-98)
- Tigers (64-98)
- Padres (66-96)
- Reds (67-95)
- Rangers (67-95)
- Braves (comp pick for not signing 2018 first-rounder Carter Stewart)
- Giants (73-89)
- Blue Jays (73-89)
- Mets (77-85)
- Twins (78-84)
- Phillies (80-82)
- Angels (80-82)
- Diamondbacks (82-80)
- Nationals (82-80)
- Pirates (82-79)
- Cardinals (88-74)
- Mariners (89-73)
- Braves (90-72)
- Rays (90-72)
- Rockies (91-72)
- Indians (91-71)
- Dodgers (92-71)
- Diamondbacks (comp pick for not signing 2018 1st-rounder Matt McLain)
- Cubs (95-68)
- Brewers (96-67)
- Athletics (97-65)
- Yankees (100-62)
- Dodgers (comp pick for not signing 2018 first-rounder J.T. Ginn)
- Astros (103-59)
- Red Sox (108-54)
As of today, the Chicago Cubs will go on the clock with the 27th pick. And unfortunately, that’s *almost* set in stone. Unlike 2016, when the Cubs lost their first and second round picks by signing qualified free agents, the 2019 draft will play by the new rules (i.e. a team cannot lose its highest first-round selection, even if it signs a free agent who rejected a qualifying offer).
A team could lose the lower of two first round picks if it’s not a revenue-sharing club and signs a qualified free agent, but only the Braves and D-Backs have multiple picks ahead of the Cubs, and both were revenue-sharing clubs last year. That doesn’t mean they will be again this year – markets and revenues change – but it’s possible.
The Cubs *could* move up one spot, however, if the MLB Players Union’s grievance against the Braves for Carter Stewart holds up, but I wouldn’t hold your breath. The Cubs are most likely picking 27th and that’s that.
It’s obviously a spot near the end of the first round, and, historically, you are dramatically more likely to get an impact player in the top five picks or so than at any point thereafter, but teams routinely make good selections there at the back of the top 30. It takes time to develop the players, so we can’t quite yet say the Cubs are one of those teams with Lange or Little or Hoerner, but we may know a whole lot more on that front by the time the Cubs make this selection in June.
Brett Taylor contributed to this post.