Chicago Cubs: Best first round picks of the past 25 years

(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
Chicago Cubs, Josh Donaldson (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: Josh Donaldson

Josh Donaldson owns the highest career WAR of any Cubs first-round draft pick since Rafael Palmeiro from the 1985 draft. Unfortunately, his success has come elsewhere. Still, he has to be considered among the Cubs’ best first-round picks.

Donaldson was a supplemental pick, 48th overall, in 2007. It was a pick that the team received as a result of losing Juan Pierre to free agency. Donaldson was drafted as a catcher out of Auburn University, though he hasn’t caught much in the majors, eventually becoming a third baseman primarily.

Seeing a significant opportunity to win it all in 2008, Donaldson was part of a four-player package that the Cubs sent to the Oakland Athletics on July 8 for pitchers Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin. Harden was the big prize in that trade, and he was great for the Cubs down the stretch, posting a 1.77 ERA in 12 starts.

However, Harden’s career quickly fizzled after that while Donaldson’s took off, making this trade one that Cubs fans lament to this day. Donaldson signed with the Minnesota Twins this past offseason but has seen time with the A’s, Toronto Blue Jays, Cleveland Indians, and Atlanta Braves. He won the AL MVP award with Toronto in 2015 and overall has had six seasons of at least 24 home runs and five seasons of over 90 RBIs.

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At age 34, Donaldson remains a reliable offensive force and, when play resumes, figures to do a lot more damage in that dangerous Minnesota lineup. Though he never did anything with them, Donaldson is among the most successful first-round picks the team has ever had.