The Cubs replenished their farm system with a flurry of deals before last month's trade deadline, shipping out a third of their active roster — including All-Stars Kris Bryant, Javy Báez, Anthony Rizzo and Craig Kimbrel.
Or did they?
"I look at the future now, today, I think our farm system has improved dramatically," said Cubs president Jed Hoyer in a 30-minute conversation with reporters after the trade deadline, calling it a chance to "reset" the farm system.
But quantity is not necessarily the same as quality. Just ask some of the leading farm system evaluators, who recently released their updated farm system rankings.
The Cubs are 18th in MLB Pipeline's midseason rankings, up from 22nd this spring. They sat 26th in the 2020 midseason rankings.
Pipeline highlights the prospect talent the Cubs have added, including deadline acquisitions Pete Crow-Armstrong, Alexander Canario and Caleb Kilian, and 2021 draft picks Jordan Wicks (first round) and James Triantos (second), among others.
However, two of the organization's top prospects, Brailyn Marquez and Kohl Franklin, have not pitched this season due to injuries, another factor in the ranking.
Baseball America also cites injuries as a factor in their ranking, specifically how top catching prospect Miguel Amaya and Marquez have missed most of the season.
"It's one step forward and one step back for the Cubs," Baseball America writes.
They also only include players who are prospect eligible as of Aug. 15. Cubs pitchers Adbert Alzolay and Justin Steele have spent most of 2021 in the big leagues and are no longer considered in the rankings.
At the least, the Cubs have added talent to their system. If nothing else, these subjective rankings suggest this process is not linear — as Theo Epstein has said.