Cubs Minor League Daily: Considering Tanking, and Why It Has Exploded

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Cubs Minor League Daily: Considering Tanking, and Why It Has Exploded

Chicago Cubs

Baseball America has an article up regarding baseball’s race to the bottom and how 2018 may well be the Year of the Tank. And while I agree with the premise, I don’t quite agree with the attributed cause.

According to Baseball America, more teams are tanking because they are trying to emulate the Cubs and Astros. I think that’s only half right. The Cubs and Astros just happened to realize faster than any other team that the 2012 Collective Bargaining Agreement very, very strongly incentivized tanking in baseball and adopted the strategy. Baseball responded in the most recent CBA by making loading up on International Free Agents more difficult … which only increased the need for teams to tank.

Pre-arbitration impact talent is the core of pretty much every great team these days. If you have those players, you can put expensive free agents around them to fill up any gaps. Big free agent dollars finish off the juggernaut, but the cost-controlled elite core is a critical ingredient.

The only way to get those players are to draft them near the top of the draft, pay the highest amounts in International Free Agency, or just get lucky on finding a diamond in the rough at the back of the first round or among the lesser-touted international free agents. That does happen, but as teams get better and better at scouting it is going to happen less often. If teams want sure access to that elite talent, they almost have to tank.

So what’s baseball going to do about it? Probably nothing. So far MLB has been unable to admit that their harsh system of penalties and hard amateur spending caps is what created this mess to begin with. They’ll likely keep trying to treat the symptoms by finding penalties for tanking and ignore the cause – their own rules that make tanking all but a requirement for a rebuilding organization.

Triple A: Iowa Cubs
Iowa 8, Omaha 3

Duncan Robinson debuted in Iowa with six scoreless innings. Mike Freeman, Jacob Hannemann, and Jason Vosler all homered as the Cubs did all their scoring by the end of the second inning.

Double A: Tennessee Smokies
Montgomery 10, Tennessee 2

The Smokies lost their fourth straight game. Charcer Burks doubled and Wynton Bernard finished with two hits.

High A: Myrtle Beach Pelicans
Down East 2, Myrtle Beach 1 in ten innings

Cory Abbott struck out 8 in his 5 scoreless innings, and Christian Donahue tied the game with a ninth inning homer to force it into extras.

Low A: South Bend Cubs
South Bend 3, Fort Wayne 2

Ryan Williams pitched into the seventh and gave up just one run before handing the ball to Maikel Aguiar. Delvin Zinn, Brandon Hughes, and Clayton Daniel all doubled for the Cubs.

Short Season A: Eugene Emeralds
Tri-City 5, Eugene 4 in eleven innings.

Faustino Carrera pitched six scoreless innings for the Emeralds. Jonathan Sierra and Nelson Velazquez each stole a base and had three hits. Gustavo Polanco hit his third homer of the season.

Rookie: AZL Cubs 1

Cubs One had the day off.

Rookie: AZL Cubs 2
Cubs Two 6, White Sox 1

Cubs pitching combined to strike out ten White Sox. Henderson Perez and Luis Diaz each homered for the Cubs.

Other Notes

  • Christian Donahue has only been in Myrtle Beach for four games, but he already has two homers and four walks there.
  • AZL Cubs 1 has their postseason spot secured, but they may be the only Cubs team in the minor league playoffs. AZL Cubs 2 remains two games behind Cleveland 2, and their season ends Monday.
  • Eugene, despite being three games under .500 in the second half, is still tied with Salem-Keizer for the second half playoff slot. The Emeralds have a little more time on their calendar than Arizona does, but their season still ends shortly after Labor Day.

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Author: Luke Blaize

Luke Blaize is the Minor League Editor at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @ltblaize.