New York Yankees

Guys Cubs, White Sox traded away rank as top two shortstop prospects in baseball


Guys Cubs, White Sox traded away rank as top two shortstop prospects in baseball

Neither the Cubs nor White Sox need worry about the ones that got away. But it turns out that the ones that got away are pretty darn good.

Baseball's two best shortstop prospects, according to MLB Pipeline's rankings, released Wednesday, were dealt away by the Cubs and White Sox during the 2016 season.

Gleyber Torres, traded to the New York Yankees in the deal that brought Aroldis Chapman to the North Side, is the site's No. 1 shortstop prospect. Right behind Torres at No. 2 is Fernando Tatis Jr., who the White Sox shipped to the San Diego Padres in the trade for James Shields.

Torres was a well thought of prospect when the Cubs moved him, a necessity to be the main piece of the trade that got the Cubs their World Series closer. Torres never played above the Class A level while in the Cubs organization, but he had a .275/.359/.433 slash line at Myrtle Beach before they moved him to the Yankees. Last year, splitting time between Double-A and Triple-A, Torres was awesome in just 55 games, with a .287/.383/.480 slash line and a 47-to-30 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

The Yankees have a good thing going right now, and teaming Torres with Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez should be a terrifying situation for opposing teams. Good thing for the Cubs they traded Torres out of the National League. But there's no reason for the Cubs to be kicking themselves for the deal, as their middle-infield combo of Javy Baez and Addison Russell also has plenty of future potential, not to mention the good things they've managed to do in the present and recent past. You know, like winning the World Series.

Tatis, meanwhile, was not a known commodity when he was traded away from the South Side in the Shields deal. Pitcher Erik Johnson, who also went to the Padres in that trade, got more attention at the time. Since, however, Tatis has dominated the minor leagues, slashing .273/.311/.432 in 55 games as a 17-year-old in 2016. Last season, he jacked those numbers up to .278/.379.498 with 22 homers, 75 RBIs, 32 steals and 27 doubles — and he didn't turn 19 until earlier this month.

There was little way of knowing that Tatis, who was just 17 when that pre-rebuild trade was made, would turn out to be what he's become and so quickly. But while having Tatis as part of the rebuilding effort would have obviously been nice, the White Sox aren't hurting for highly rated prospects. Michael Kopech, Zack Collins and Jake Burger have already popped up on MLB Pipeline's positional top-10 lists, with outfielders — and Eloy Jimenez — still to come. The future is bright as can be on the South Side even without Tatis, and the team is very confident that Tim Anderson, who's been at the major league level for two seasons now, will succeed as the shortstop of the future.

It's fun to play the what-if game with guys like Torres and Tatis, though with the Cubs already winning a championship and the White Sox generating plenty of hope for the same with their rebuild, these trades don't fall into the category of epic regret.

Butterfly Effect: How Evan Longoria helped the Cubs end their World Series drought


Butterfly Effect: How Evan Longoria helped the Cubs end their World Series drought

Maybe Evan Longoria should've gotten one of the 1,908 World Series rings the Cubs handed out this spring.

After all, he deserves a ton of credit for the end of the 108-year championship drought.

On the day Longoria was dealt from the Tampa Bay Rays to the San Francisco Giants, let's rewind back to Sept. 29, 2011 when he came up to bat in the bottom of the 12th inning to face Buddy Carlyle. 

It was the final regular season game of the season and the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees were deadlocked in a 7-7 tie.

Longoria drilled Carlyle's 2-2 offering just inside the left-field foul pole for one of the most dramatic walk-off homers in baseball history. 

(Check out the shots of Joe Maddon in the Rays uniform in the dugout, sporting his long white locks.)

Amazingly, Longoria and the Rays began the game by falling in a 7-0 hole before clawing all the way back.

With the blast, he handed the Rays the American League wild-card spot and subsequently knocked out Theo Epstein's Boston Red Sox in the process. That completed one of the most epic collapses ever as the Red Sox faded down the stretch in what later became known as the Beer and Fried Chicken Incident (in which Jon Lester and John Lackey were both involved).

Epstein — then the GM of the Red Sox — left Boston in the aftermath, migrating west to join the Cubs front office. 

It was the first domino in the line that led to the end of the longest championship drought in American sports history.

And Cubs fans have Evan Longoria to thank for a roundabout way.

Scott Boras has a very high opinion of the Cubs — even if they won't hand Jake Arrieta $200 million

Scott Boras has a very high opinion of the Cubs — even if they won't hand Jake Arrieta $200 million

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Scott Boras saved all his money one-liners for other teams like the Miami Marlins and New York Yankees.

The Cubs weren't on the wrong end of any of the super-agent's zingers like they were a few years ago with Boras' "Meet the Parents" comment about how the Ricketts family preferred not to jack up their payroll during a rebuild.

Instead, Boras has completely changed his tune from that timeframe and took several opportunities to give the Cubs rave reviews as he stood on a literal pedestal to deliver his State of the Union Wednesday morning at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort.

"The club, economically, they're $2 billion above where they were five yeras ago, which just says a great deal about the operation with Tom [Ricketts] and Theo [Epstein] and Jed {Hoyer], what they've done," Boras said in a 1-on-1 interview with NBC Sports Chicago's Kelly Crull. "They've really done a remarkable job with the restoration of the franchise.

"The next step — and often the hardest step — is how do you reinvest in your success? How do you continue to give that fanbase their best opportunity?"

Boras, of course, is alluding to money and how the Cubs have to spend money to stay where they are. Because it always comes back to money with the world's most powerful sports agent.

Money is also a major sticking point for Jake Arrieta, the top free agent pitcher on the market and Boras' No. 1 priority this winter.

Arrieta and Boras are reportedly asking for somewhere in the neighborhood of $180-$200 million, though Boras balked at that, claiming he doesn't set the market (c'mon...).

But Boras was also creative in how he sold Arrieta to the media throng of 200+ people Wednesday morning. He could've gotten into the epic 2015 season, Arrieta's Cy Young votes the last few years or his reputation as an elite (or close to it) starter.

Instead, Boras continued to talk about the road to "Playoffville" and how Arrieta has joined the ranks of Madison Bumgarner and Justin Verlander as active October legends.

Boras also continually pointed to Arrieta's lack of wear and tear on his arm, with only 1,161 big-league innings under his belt through his age-31 season.

The Cubs almost certainly won't pay an exorbitant amount for what figures to be Arrieta's only big contract of his life, but that won't stop Boras from keeping Epstein and Co. in the loop publicly.

"There are a number of people who are Jake's age who are 30, 31 and they have 1,700-2,000 innings on their arm," Boras told Crull. "Much like Max Scherzer, who was a similar age when he signed his contract 2-3 years ago, he also only had about 1,200 innings on his arm.

"So [Arrieta is] about 4-5 seasons behind the customary wear and tear you usually see. I think it's part of the fact, but with Jake's conditioning, the rarity of his innings, having Cy Young success, being a big-game pitcher — those are components that you rarely don't find in a free agent market."