The Chicago Cubs have a farm system that other teams should be envious of. We’ve talked about how balanced and absolutely loaded the system is and we’ve pointed out that according to MLB Pipeline, the Cubs have the most players in the top 100.
ESPN has now weighed in on the subject (subscription required) and they have similar opinions to MLB Pipeline with regards to what the Cubs have managed to amass in terms of young, cost-controlled talent and they take it even a step further to quantify what that means to the future of the team.
According to Kiley McDaniel, ESPN’s MLB Insider noted some research that he and Craig Edwards had done while at FanGraphs together.
"“While at FanGraphs, research by Craig Edwards (who now works for the MLB Players Association) revealed empirical surplus dollar values for each future value tier of prospect, so we can now make an objective ranking of farm systems derived from my individual team lists, which will be published next week.”"- Kiley McDaniel, ESPN
According to McDaniel’s valuation, the Cubs have the second-best farm system behind only the Baltimore Orioles.
What sort of surplus value does that ranking entail?
$328 million dollars based on the calculations, which is up considerably from the $220.5 million dollars in surplus value the system was worth last season.
Since 2020 the Farm system has steadily improved. It went from 24th in 2020, to 22nd in 2021, to 19th in 2022, to 11th in 2023 to ranking second today.
To make that enormous jump from 11th to second a lot of things needed to happen. It doesn’t hurt that the teams ahead of the Cubs had their star prospects join the majors while the biggest player to lose rookie eligibility for the Cubs last season was First Baseman Matt Mervis.
That being said, Cubs prospects generally dominated the minors last season.
Pete Crow-Armstrong, Cade Horton, Kevin Alcantara, Owen Caissie, Moises Ballesteros, Jefferson Rojas, Ben Brown, Jordan Wicks and so many more exceeded expectations. Matt Shaw got drafted and dominated immediately. Even the addition of Michael Bush helped add surplus value.
McDaniel posited that with all of this surplus value that the minor leagues have created, the Cubs, being on the verge of playoff-worthy, could allocate some funds towards a superstar like Cody Bellinger or Matt Chapman and still remain under the luxury tax.