2018 Fantasy Baseball Draft Prep: Ranking the Fantasy assets for the Chicago Cubs with Yu Darvish on board

In two years' time, the Cubs have gone from a club meticulously built for long-term success to one fully invested in the now.

That's what happens when you trade two of your best prospects, including blue-chipper Eloy Jimenez, for Jose Quintana ... and then invest nine figures in Yu Darvish.

Beyond just it helping them overtake the Brewers last year for NL Central honors, you can understand why they made the trade. Jake Arrieta and John Lackey were set for free agency, and Jon Lester wasn't looking like himself anymore. Quintana, meanwhile, is locked up for three more years at a team-friendly rate, and the Cubs have a championship-caliber lineup that's peaking right now. They needed a starting pitcher they could count on.

And the Darvish signing? Well, they decided this offseason that one wasn't enough.

But between the pitching departures, the depleted farm system and Lester, Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist all losing value with years remaining on their contracts, the Cubs are suddenly looking vulnerable. Their other offseason moves? Signing a statistical curiosity in Tyler Chatwood and replace a historically great closer (Wade Davis) with an injury-prone non-closer (Brandon Morrow).

Still, they have Kris Bryant. And Anthony Rizzo. And maybe the game's second-best offensive catcher in Willson Contreras. And Kyle Schwarber, for whatever that's worth. They're still a force to be reckoned with. It's just that the reckoning isn't as forceful as before.

Cubs in Scott's Top 300
PlayerRoto RankH2H RankRoto Pos RankH2H Pos Rank
#11 #10 #2 #2
#19 #16 #4 #3
#73 #74 #3 #3
#92 #66 #24 #24
#97 #71 #27 #27
#145 #171 #17 #18
#177 #145 #49 #49
#187 #225 #45 #50
#203 #230 #20 (at 2B) #21 (at 2B)
Ian Happ CHC CF
#216 #256 #56 (at OF) #60 (at OF)
#281 #284 #20 #20
NR #209 #40 (at RP) #24 (at RP)

Players in Scott's Top 100 Prospects

None! You see what I'm talking about? The Cubs have pawned them all to feed their addiction -- their addiction to winning. Maybe by the time they have to begin selling off their homegrown nucleus, they'll have rebuilt the farm. Players like Adbert Alzolay, Aramis Ademan and Admiral Ackbar (just kidding on that last one) offer some hope for the future, but they're either too undeveloped or too far away to appear on my list.

Things to Know

  • One area where the Cubs still have plenty of depth is the middle infield, in particular second base -- a logjam freed up somewhat by the ability of Ian Happ's and Ben Zobrist to man the outfield and Javier Baez's ability to spell the offensively underwhelming Addison Russell at shortstop. But assuming none of the three is any more than the Cubs' second choice at those secondary positions, finding at-bats for each could prove to be a challenge. Baez would appear to have first dibs, judging by postseason usage, and Zobrist's colossal step back last year could relegate him to more of a reserve role at 37. For Fantasy purposes, it's mostly Happ I worry about.
  • But hey, the outfield isn't at all settled, and Happ rates as a better defender out there anyway. It's just that Albert Almora has an even better defensive reputation and is deserving of nearly everyday looks after a successful part-time stint. And the Cubs are still heavily invested in Kyle Schwarber, who they've long treated as the third wheel in the Bryant-Rizzo bromance and who performed much better in the second half after a stint in the minors. They also have to recoup something from the Jason Heyward folly and can justify playing him thanks to his Gold Glove-caliber defense.
  • Jon Lester's 2017 is different from the other blips in his career in that it seemed to be the result of diminished skill. He lost a mile per hour on his fastball and had his lowest strikeout rate in four years. Maybe he bounces back, but more likely at 34, this is the new baseline.
  • The world got to know Brandon Morrow: shutdown reliever during the Dodgers' march to the World Series last year, but they may not remember Brandon Morrow: perennial tease from his time with the Mariners, Blue Jays and Padres. Performance-wise, I think he'll do fine as a closer, but health-wise, who knows? Fortunately, the Cubs have no shortage of fallbacks in Carl Edwards, Justin Wilson, Pedro Strop and Steve Cishek.

Lineup & Rotation

Batting order    
                
1 Kyle Schwarber LF
2 Kris Bryant 3B
3 Anthony Rizzo 1B
4 Willson Contreras C
5 Javier Baez 2B
6 Jason Heyward RF
7 Addison Russell SS
8 Albert Almora CF
Pitchers                             
SP Jon Lester
SP Yu Darvish
SP Jose Quintana
SP Kyle Hendricks
SP Tyler Chatwood
CL Brandon Morrow
RP Carl Edwards
RP Justin Wilson
Senior Fantasy Writer

Raised in Atlanta by a board game-loving family during the dawn of the '90s Braves dynasty, Scott White was easy prey for the Fantasy Sports, in particular Fantasy Baseball, and has devoted his adulthood... Full Bio

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