At the end of August last year, I wrote an article debating which young position player core I'd rather have, the Red Sox or Cubs. I want to revisit that debate in this post. Before we begin, I'll repeat what I wrote last year regarding the parameters.
First, let's lay out the parameters of the debate. I'm looking at this like an expansion team. When deciding, I have the next 4-8 years in mind. And I'm limiting this to players younger than 28 because that's a number that I picked. Everyone knows that at 29 you officially become old.
Last year: Betts, Bogaerts, Bradley, Benintendi, Moncada, Devers, Shaw
|Betts||24||6.0 WAR .291/.341/.479||9.5 WAR .318/.363/.534||4.9 WAR .265/.341/.441|
|Benintendi||22||7th pick in draft||0.5 WAR .295/.359/.476||1.8 WAR .273/.350/.437|
|Devers||20||#15 MLB prospect*||#19 MLB prospect**||0.7 WAR .288/.351/.558|
|Bogaerts||24||4.6 WAR .320/.355/.421||3.7 WAR .294/.356/.446||1.4 WAR .279/.339/.410|
|Bradley||27||2.2 WAR .249/.335/.498||5.3 WAR .267/.349/.486||2.8 WAR .262/.343/.432|
Last year: Bryant, Rizzo, Russell, Schwarber, Baez, Contreras, Soler
|Bryant||25||5.9 WAR .275/.369/.488||7.7 WAR .292/.385/.554||4.7 WAR .289/.405/.535|
|Rizzo||28||6.2 WAR .278/.387/.512||5.8 WAR .292/.385/.544||4.3 WAR .275/.394/.526|
|Contreras||23||NA||1.8 WAR .282/.357/.488||3.5 WAR .274/.342/.519|
|Russell||23||3.3 WAR .242/.307/.389||4.3 WAR .238/.321/.417||2.2 WAR .241/.305/.417|
|Baez||24||0.5 WAR .289/.325/.408||3.4 WAR .273/.314/.423||1.9 WAR .270/.311/.489|
|Schwarber||24||1.2 WAR .246/.355/.487||Injured||-0.2 WAR .199/.311/.436|
Both teams traded away pieces from their core to sure up weaknesses on their pitching staff. The Red Sox dealt Moncada for Chris Sale and Shaw for Tyler Thornburg. The Cubs swapped Jorge Soler for Wade Davis. And then they traded top prospect Eloy Jiminez—who would have taken Soler's spot—for Jose Quintana. Both teams are still really good and really deep. In the tables above, I reorganized the players in order of how I value them today.
Which core should I have taken last year?
Well, the Cubs are winning the WAR battle, 16.4 to 9.8. It gets much closer, though, if you add in Shaw, Moncada, and Soler: 15 to 14.2. Last year, I took the Cubs. I emailed the Effectively Wild podcast and Sam Miller took the Red Sox on air. The Red Sox turned Moncada into Sale (5.1 WAR), and they'll have him through 2019. The Cubs turned Soler into one year of Wade Davis (1.3 WAR). Russell and Schwarber have underperformed in 2017, but so have Bogaerts and Benintendi. It's a close call, but I lean towards me being right. Sorry, Sam.
Which core would I take today?
Cubs. I think Bryant is the best player of the bunch and is a lock to be a MVP candidate for the next five years. Devers' emergence makes this closer, but I think Russell will bounce back in 2018; he did too many special things as a 22-year-old to not. I also like Contreras locking down the catcher position—he provides great value compared to his counterparts. And lastly, the Cubs have six players left while the Red Sox only have five.
A year later, and this debate is still fun! I'll have to revisit it again next August.