Since 2011 when Theo, Jed and Jason were hired the Cubs have been wheeling and dealing. They have been stacking up on talent since then to build a team set for “sustained success.” As the Cubs, it seems, have turned the corner lets take a look at the front offices best moves and worst moves based on the value they have for the Cubs. Along with the Cubs I looked at the Astros who went through a similar rebuild and then the Giants who are an established competitive team.
I went through almost all of the acquisitions that the front office’s made while with the Cubs, Astros, and Giants and have put together the best and worst teams based on their bWAR. Some of the numbers are skewed because certain players have had a lot more time than others. This does not include any holdovers and draft picks from the previous regime for the Cubs and Astros, for the Giants it is players signed from 2012-2014.
Best: Cubs Best: Astros Best: Giants
SP-Jake Arrieta (6.0) SP-Collin McHugh (4.2) SP-Jake Peavy (2.1)
RP-Pedro Strop (2.4) RP-Jose Veras (1.5) RP-Jean Machi (2.4)
C-Dioner Navarro (2.3) C-Cody Clark (-0.2) C-Andrew Susac (1.0)
IF-Anthony Rizzo (10.1) IF-Chris Carter 2.8 IF-Mike Morse (1.1)
IF-Donnie Murphy (1.0) IF-Jed Lowrie (2.2) IF- Joe Panik (1.1)
IF-Emilio Bonifacio (1.4) IF-Matt Dominguez (1.3) IF-Joaquin Arias (1.2)
IF-Luis Valbuena (3.6) IF-Marwin Gonzalez (1.8) IF-Marco Scutaro (4.1)
OF-David Dejesus (2.4) OF-Robbie Grossman (1.4) OF-Gregor Blanco (5.8)
OF-Jorge Soler (1.0) OF-Dexter Fowler (1.7) OF-Angel Pagan (6.2)
OF-Ryan Sweeney (0.5) OF-Justin Maxwell (2.4) OF-Hunter Pence (7.7)
Worst: Cubs Worst: Astros Worst: Giants
SP-Edwin Jackson (-3.6) SP-Phil Humber (-1.6) SP-Tim Hudson (1.5)
RP-Jose Veras (-0.5) RP-Paul Clemens (-1.1) RP-Mike Kickham (-1.6)
C-John Baker (-1.0) C-Chris Synder (-0.6) C-Guillermo Quiroz(-0.4)
IF-Mike Olt (-0.8) IF-Carlos Pena (-0.4) IF-Travis Ishikawa (0.3)
IF-Cody Ransom (0.9) IF-Jake Elmore (-0.6) IF-Nick Noonan (-0.4)
IF-Chris Valaika (0.1) IF-Ronnie Cedano (-0.6) IF-Ryan Theriot (-0.3)
IF-Ian Stewart (0.0) IF-Brandon Laird (-0.2) IF-Ehire Adrianza (-0.1)
OF-Joe Mather (-2.0) OF-Fernando Martinez (-1.0) OF-Jeff Francoeur (-0.5)
OF-Scott Hairston (-0.6) OF-Ben Francisco (-0.8) OF-Cole Gillespie (-0.4)
OF-Justin Ruggiano (-0.4) OF-Marc Krauss (-0.9) OF-Tyler Colvin (-0.3)
Because there was not always a clear shortstop on the list of players I put each of the infielders as “IF”. You could imagine where each of the players would be slotted in the lineup.
For the Cubs and Astros most of these players were short term signing but some were traded for and looked at to be long term assets. The Giants had a few impact signings from 2012-2014 and most of the other players on their lists had little impact.
Focusing on the Cubs, while Scott Feldman was with the Cubs he accumulated a 0.9 bWAR and was traded to Baltimore for Pedro Strop and Jake Arrieta who, together, have registered a 8.4 bWAR. This was their best trade featuring someone they acquired and turning them into a long term asset. Obviously Anthony Rizzo has been their best acquisition (10.1 bWAR) but Cashner was an asset they inherited. The best under the radar signing was definitely Luis Valbuena (3.6 bWAR) but we do not know the value the Cubs will get from Fowler, which can make Valbuena and the trade even more valuable for the Cubs moving forward.
The worst signing is the obvious one and that is Edwin Jackson (-3.6 bWAR). The important thing when looking at the team labeled “Worst” is that Jackson is/was the only player signed to a long term deal. Also, with Mike Olt’s spring the hope is that he will remove himself from the “Worst team.” (lol that Tim Hudson is on the “Worst” team but the Giants already had an established rotation for awhile now and only signed 2 SPs from 2012-2014: he and Peavy)
Looking at the Best and Worst teams only Rizzo, Jackson, and Soler were signed long term. Hopefully, with another strong year Arrieta will be added to that list and maybe Travis Wood if he can regain his All-Star form. This is what happens during a rebuild, many small signing turning them into long term assets which means the guys they are really banking on (the prospects) we have yet to see. Also, who knows where Ross, Fowler, and Montero fit with the Cubs moving forward. Over the next few years these lists of best and worst signing will look very different. Bryant, Schwarber, Almora and impact signing/acquisitions like the Giants did with Pence and Peavy should hopefully change some spots on the “Best” team.
The Giants are at a completely different stage of where the organization is at compared to the Cubs and Astros. Most of the low risk signings for San Francisco never had significant roles on their team compared the Cubs and Astros. They had chances to “go for it” and made signing that include: Jake Peavy, Hunter Pence, Tim Hudson. Trades that include: Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro. While Houston and Chicago made many trades for prospects to help their future the Giants trades and signings were about immediate impact to the big league club.
Looking at the Cubs and Astros they both had a bunch of low impact signings with a couple of long term contracts during their rebuilds but many of the guys in this post are no longer with either team. They have added players from their farm system along with a few trades and signings to get to where these organizations are at now. Both teams took the steps necessary to rebuild their organizations from the ground up. Now it is about competing.