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.