There’s just so much to unpack from that Trade Deadline, man. It was five days ago, but the implications are so significant, the feelings so strong, and then the organizational fallout brought so much to the surface, that it takes a while to get to everything you want to get to.
For example, there is always a lot of prospecting stuff after the deadline. And while I briefly touched on all the trade returns here, and Bryan dug into the prospects here and here, there are also a number of external write-ups that I wanted to share and discuss …
⇒ The Athletic duo of Sahadev Sharma and Patrick Mooney dug into the many trade returns here. A number of the players and prospects in the deals gets a deep dive, but I think you’ll particularly like the write-ups on Pete Crow-Armstrong and Kevin Alcantara.
⇒ On Crow-Armstrong, the Cubs had been scouting him in the fall, apparently believing he was looking better than his 19th overall pick draft stock would suggest. The non-throwing-shoulder injury is absolutely a question (and why he was available), but if he comes back healthy? You’re talking about, what, a top 15 draft pick type prospect? Top 10? The glove will play in center and the high-contact bat is a unique skill. What I have found most interesting the last few days in reading about PCA is that for as much as you can see superficial parallels to Albert Almora when he was a 19-year-old prospect, there’s one huge difference in the scouting: unlike Almora, Crow-Armstrong is not a contact-everything-because-I-can guy. The plate discipline skill is already there, and although there are questions about power projection for PCA that weren’t there for Almora, I’d rather take a chance on a guy not developing enough power than a guy not developing enough plate discipline. Maybe that’s just me overreacting to the last five years.
⇒ On Alcantara, you kinda just have to read it. But there is so much to like about the physical projection, and the possibility that he becomes one of those monster hitters. Reminds me a lot of what we are hearing/seeing on Owen Caissie in terms of being a complex-ball corner outfield bat where the power is already coming, and the results are kind of ridiculous. Also? Alcantara and Caissie, both 19, were born just four days apart.
⇒ After the trades, the Cubs’ farm system ranking at FanGraphs (the only farm system re-rank post-deadline so far) is all the way up to 8. The Cubs were already a mid-range system before the deadline on FanGraphs (their depth is appreciated there), so I don’t know that any of the other services will have the Cubs in the top ten in the fall, absent a lot of HUGE breakouts from here. The issue is going to be a fair one: for as much extreme depth as the Cubs have in the system now, the really only have one clear top 100 prospect at this point (Brennen Davis). The guys who could’ve been in that range got hurt or haven’t broken out. And since big-time impact prospects have a disproportionate value down the road, they are disproportionately weighted in farm rankings, and thus it’ll probably be fair to have the Cubs more in that 11 to 14 range.
⇒ That said, that depth – the sheer volume of legitimate prospects who would be in that 6 to 15 range in an average farm system – is incredible. Consider Toronto for an example of a median farm system at FanGraphs: their 15th raked prospect is their 4th 40 FV prospect, and they’ve got 26 40 FV or better prospects. In the Cubs system? You don’t even GET TO 40 FV until the 31st ranked prospect. In other words, the Cubs have 30(!) prospects right now that would rank 11th or better in the Blue Jays’ average farm system. That’s extreme depth.
⇒ Speaking of FanGraphs, they also ranked all the prospects traded at the deadline, and included Nick Madrigal (2nd to Josiah Gray) for context. They also included the expected value of a compensatory pick at the end of the first round (note that the Cubs’s compensatory pick(s) would’ve been after the second round, because they are a large-market team), and all of Anderson Espinoza, Greg Deichmann, Bryce Ball, Caleb Kilian, and Daniel Palencia wind up right around that same 40+ FV value of a post-first-round comp pick. In other words, FanGraphs *really* like the Cubs’ trade returns. All of Kevin Alcantara, Pete Crow-Armstrong, Alexander Vizcaino, and Alexander Canario rank much higher.
⇒ MLB Pipeline ranked the trade returns by organization, with the total Nationals haul and total Twins haul topping the Cubs. Your big caveat there is that Nick Madrigal and Codi Heuer, as big leaguers, were not included. So it was pure prospect returns, and given who the Nationals and Twins traded for prospects, it’s no surprise that the Cubs’ deals (essentially with only rental relievers and position players) came in third:
This wasn’t quite Nationals-level turnover, but keep in mind the three main big league pieces on the move — Kris Bryant, Javy Báez and Anthony Rizzo — are all free agents at the end of this year. Given that these were three two-month rentals, the Cubs do get credit for bringing in some depth. Those three players brought in four new members of the Cubs’ Top 10 and they were able to add one more Top 30 player courtesy of the Bryant deal and a sixth in the Andrew Chafin trade with the A’s. Their haul will look better if the injured Pete Crow-Armstrong (from the Mets in the Báez deal) turns into a more elite-level prospect and if the additional depth (the Cubs got three more prospects who were on other team Top 30s but didn’t make the Cubs current list) develop into solid talent.
⇒ Baseball America graded the Cubs’ deadline as a B+:
The Cubs’ greatest run in the last 100 years came to an end with the trades of 1B Anthony Rizzo, SS Javier Baez and 3B/OF Kris Bryant, along with RHP Craig Kimbrel, LHP Andrew Chafin, RHP Ryan Tepera, OF Jake Marisnick and RHP Trevor Williams. The returns for Baez and Williams (OF Pete Crow-Armstrong) and Kimbrel (2B Nick Madrigal and RHP Codi Heuer) were encouraging, while the return for Rizzo (RHP Alexander Vizcaino and OF Kevin Alcantara) was solid. The Cubs didn’t get enough for 3B/OF Kris Bryant (OF Alexander Canario and RHP Caleb Kilian), but on the whole they got more solid returns than not and have an improved young talent base to work with.