2018 Year-End MLB Team Portfolio Rankings

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2018 Year-End MLB Team Portfolio Rankings 

Post#1 » by RealGM Articles » Wed Dec 26, 2018 10:34 pm

For the fourth straight year, we have created a year-end team portfolio ranking for Major League Baseball. The exercise is to evaluate every team as if they were a portfolio of assets to determine which is most valuable. 

The only considerations are talent, age, contract situations and farm system with the goal being to eventually compete for and win the World Series. An older team already contending is more valued than a younger team with a ton of talent that may not get there, but the younger team with upside is a better bet than an older team that’s currently better but without the upside. 

There is no consideration given to the team location, history, manager, general manager or owner.

30. Miami Marlins (30): The Marlins were the biggest embarrassment in baseball last offseason, as the new ownership broke up the best outfield in baseball simply because they couldn’t afford their new team. There isn’t much in the way of assets left to sell off for parts, with the notable exception of J.T. Realmuto, and the farm still needs a lot of work. Both the last two teams on this list are going to be terribly unpleasant to watch for the foreseeable future, so you could feasibly switch them out pretty easily, but for now (and despite the disclaimer in the intro that we don’t consider these things…), the tiebreaker goes to Miami’s ownership and the fact they have yet to offer up any sort of a show of good faith. - JW

29. Baltimore Orioles (24): The Orioles failed to create a winner around Manny Machado, which led to this summer’s trade to the Dodgers for a package of five prospects. Yusniel Diaz was the centerpiece of that deal and now headlines a middling group of prospects. The Curious Case of Chris Davis hamstrung them both in terms of payroll and playing time and the reality is they may not have even hit rock bottom. Move Adam Jones, entertain trading Kevin Gausman and/or Dylan Bundy and plant Davis on the bench and lean into the tank. - AP

28. Seattle Mariners (15): Jerry Dipoto has been busy since the season ended, making endless moves around a troubling hospital stay. They shipped out Jean Segura (Phillies), Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz (Mets) and James Paxton (Yankees), who ranked second-fifth on the club in WAR in 2018. Getting out from under Cano’s contract was worth losing Diaz and sending $20 million to Queens and all of the deals have helped reinvigorate what was a shallow minor league operation. Justus Sheffield became Seattle’s top prospect once the Paxton deal was consummated. - AP

27. Detroit Tigers (23): Al Avila has had to rebuild organizational depth by adopting different philosophies than those of Dave Dombrowski, who preferred to use prospects to acquire Major League-ready talent. A four-year playoff drought is unlikely to end in 2019 or 2020, but they may have the AL’s most impressive collection of pitching prospects. Matt Manning and Casey Mize could headline Detroit’s rotation for a majority of the 20s. Nick Castellanos could be a star on a winning team or in a bigger market, but he’s better suited as a trade chip this coming summer anyway. - AP

26. Texas Rangers (19): The Rangers weren’t supposed to be as bad as they were in 2018, which in and of itself should lend itself to a slight uptick in wins. They relied heavily on Mike Minor, Bartolo Colon and Cole Hamels. The trio, with an average age of 36, accounted for nearly 30% of the Rangers’ innings pitched. They added Lance Lynn, who turns 32 in May, it’s unlikely that any of their pitching prospects will be able to make any sort of impact in 2019. There is a path to relevancy in two-three years, but it has more twists and turns than other clubs in a similar position. - AP 

25. Kansas City Royals (29): The fall has been steep for the 2015 champions, who rode an analytic defensive wave to back-to-back World Series appearances. There hasn’t been a tremendous amount of roster turnover since then, which makes Kansas City’s struggles both understandable and confounding simultaneously. They entered the 2018 season with perhaps the worst farm system in the game, but were almost universally lauded for their haul in June’s amateur draft. While we wait for those prospects to reach The Show, cross young fingers Jakob Junis turns into a gem and grab the underappreciated Whit Merrifield in your fantasy draft. - AP

24. San Francisco Giants (12): If we had the Giants ranked too highly last year, that’s no longer a problem. They have an aging core of players signed for the long haul with contracts that make them either untradeable or not worth moving. They have basically no farm system to speak of, which was certainly not helped by last offseason’s decision that aging franchise cornerstones were an underexploited market inefficiency. The rotation is an injury-filled mess and new President of Baseball Farhan Zaidi certainly has his work cut out for him. While there’s a non-zero chance that a miraculous collective rebound could put them into Wild Card contention next year, the team is deeply flawed and things are apt to get worse before they get better. - JW

23. Pittsburgh Pirates (20): If Pittsburgh played in the same division in the AL, they’d probably be a halfway decent sleeper pick for next year’s postseason, but, alas, the NL Central is far less forgiving. They got contributions from some of their players they added in trades last season, most notably Joe Musgrove and Corey Dickerson. They had a handful of quite solid players on their MLB roster last year, headlined by Starling Marte, Francisco Cervelli and Jameson Taillon. But we probably shouldn’t expect to see moves that will truly turn around the team’s fate this offseason, unless they move the Bucs further away from contention and trade away soon-to-be free agents (see: Cervelli and Dickerson). The farm system is far from barren, but there don’t appear to be any franchise altering players there just yet. While it’s possible that we could see the Pirates higher up the list in a couple of years, they’re a tough sell at the moment. - JW

22. San Diego Padres (28): The Padres probably have another year before we give them too much thought (and they probably should have held off on that Hosmer deal). That being said, their farm is widely considered to be the best in either league, with a top-3 prospect in Fernando Tatis, Jr. and somewhere in the neighborhood of ten prospects appearing on different top-100 lists. While not all of those prospects are going to pan out, they’re in a more enviable position than a bunch of the teams below them on the list. If some of those players arrive successfully this year and some of their other many younger players breakout a bit, San Diego might be buyers again come next offseason. - JW

21. Cincinnati Reds (27): The Reds needed pitching badly last season, just as they have since the last time they made the postseason in 2013, and they’ve already added one-year apiece of Tanner Roark and Alex Wood via trade this offseason. They have a young group of successful position players already succeeding, headlined by Scooter Genet and Eugenio Suarez. Now they have Yasiel Puig and, of course, Joey Votto is still doing his thing. Despite failing to capitalize on cashing in veterans for prospects as they fell out of contention in the last half decade, they’ve drafted well and now have a top-ten farm system, headlined by infielder Nick Senzel, who spent 2018 demolishing AAA. While their division isn’t doing them any favors and they still have some work to do this offseason, they’ve quietly turned into a dark horse pick and they could easily slot much higher up the list come next year with a few breaks in the player development department, although their division certainly won’t help them out at all. - JW 

20. Minnesota Twins (18): The Joe Mauer Era has come to a sad end, but things weren’t exactly thrilling with the St. Paul native. The Twins haven’t won a playoff game since 2004 and have made just three postseason appearances in the last 10 years. Their ability to float in the middle will depend on how Jorge Polanco, Max Kepler and Jose Berrios mature over the next two years. Minnesota, however, does have an elite farm system, which leaves open the possibility of a rather quick turnaround. Royce Lewis and Nick Gordon could be among baseball’s next wave of superstar infielders. - AP

19. Toronto Blue Jays (17): Repeat after me: Vlad Guerrero, Jr., Vlad Guerrero, Jr., Vlad Guerrero, Jr. As the Angels have shown us, one player (even a Hall of Famer) doesn’t make a franchise, but at least the Blue Jays have Guerrero’s future to keep them from drowning in sorrow. It will be a while before Toronto sniffs the playoffs, but if you believe in the player development department then everything will be just fine. Vlad, Jr. isn’t the only potential stud waiting in the wings with Bo Bichette, Anthony Alford and Cavan Biggio in the organization as well. - AP 

18. Chicago White Sox (25): The White Sox were one of just three teams to lose 100 or more games this season, which is probably why I had to fight John tooth-and-nail to keep them from appearing far lower in our rankings. A lot will have to come together for Chicago to enter playoff contention over the next few years, but I’m among the believers in Yoan Moncada, Reynaldo Lopez, Lucas Giolito and Carlos Rodon. If two of those four become stars, Michael Kopech comes back healthy and a big fish is landed in free agency by 2020, the South Siders will absolutely be relevant once again. - AP

17. Arizona Diamondbacks (10): Where Arizona goes from here is anybody’s guess. They traded Paul Goldschmidt, who has been the most valuable position player in the National League over the last six seasons. He was going to be a free agent after this year, though, and the pieces they received back were excess pieces in St. Louis but should presumably help the D-Backs out next year, and there was also a prospect and bonus pick in the mix, as well. Patrick Corbin has moved on and they’ve yet to resign A.J. Pollock, but there’s still some decent players in the fold and we can’t really push them too far away from the middle of the pack unless they decide to go full rebuild and get rid of those players. - JW 

16. New York Mets (16): New GM Brodie Van Wagenen has been very busy trying to revamp the Mets’ lineup this offseason, trading for Robinson Canó and signing Wilson Ramos, hoping to give some run support to the NL’s best rotation. It’s certainly heartening to see the Wilpon-owned team recognize that their window with their current starters has an expiration date and take on more salary. The biggest question mark has been their shopping of Noah Syndergaard, as it would certainly seem strange to break up their league-leading rotation, unless the return is absolutely overwhelming. The biggest problem for the Mets is the fact that two sleeping giants appear to have awoken in their division and those starters aren’t getting any younger. - JW 

15. Colorado Rockies (13): After making back-to-back postseason appearances for the first time in franchise history, the Rockies were quickly swept out of the NLDS by the Brewers. It’s certainly not hard to see them wriggling their way back into the postseason next year, but they’ve certainly got some tough choices ahead of them. While Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story and Charlie Blackmon are an imposing chunk of a lineup, this is Arenado’s walk year and there are holes to fill, although Daniel Murphy’s bat should more than make up for the loss of DJ LeMahieu. But if starters German Marquez and Kyle Freeland have truly cracked the code to pitching at Coors Field, the Rockies are at least respectable bet to lay claim to another Wild Card appearance in 2019. - JW

14. Milwaukee Brewers (14): The lack of movement on this list since last year might seem strange, given that the Brewers were only a game away from the World Series. The bad news for Milwaukee is that they’ve still got the Cubs, Cardinals and maybe even the Reds to contend with in their division. The moves they made last season to acquire the best available players in Lorenzo Cain and the future and current MVP Christian Yelich certainly paid off, but there are clearly still some issues on the other side of the ball. The bullpen was one of the best in either league and Josh Hader will be back, but the rotation had plenty of issues. The questions are whether Jimmy Nelson will return successfully, whether one of their young relievers could make the move to the rotation or whether they’ll make another move to short up their starter situation. If things break correctly, I could see them making it to the World Series, but I also wouldn’t be all that surprised if they missed the postseason entirely. - JW

13. Tampa Bay Rays (11): While they haven’t hit rock bottom as often as the team one spot ahead of them on the list, the Rays are the Athletics of the East -- they excel at player development and operate on a lower financial plane than their competitors. They are run so well, but unfortunately share a division with the Red Sox and Yankees. In any other division, Tampa Bay might have approached 100 wins in 2018. As usual, the farm system is robust and potential studs Blake Snell and Tyler Glasnow already have a lot of Major League experience. - AP 

12. Oakland Athletics (22): The A’s resurfaced this past season after three-straight last place finishes. They are the Fran Fraschilla of baseball; always two years from being two years away. The farm system entered the offseason just slightly above average, but some of that depth was dealt in the Jurickson Profar trade. Any rebuild becomes a lot easier when you have a superstar and Matt Chapman fits that mold. - AP 

11. Los Angeles Angels (9): With Mike Trout, the Angels have baseball’s best current player, and maybe one of the best of all-time, but it famously hasn’t led to much in terms of winning. They haven’t finished above .500 since 2015 and Trout has played in just three postseason games (all losses). Shohei Ohtani has absolutely lived up to all the hype as a true dual-threat, but Tommy John surgery will keep him from contributing substantiality on the mound until 2020. The albatross of a contract given to Albert Pujols back in 2011 is still haunting the front office and it has three years and almost $90 million left before it expires (and a personal-services contract begins). The ability to sign Bryce Harper or Manny Machado to pair with Trout this winter could have changed the entire course of the franchise. - AP

10. Washington Nationals (6): This was always the offseason of doom for Washington, the one where they would finally lose Harper. While the lineup would clearly be better off with him in it, it’s still a pretty impressive one even without him, at least while they retain Anthony Rendon for another year. The outfield of Juan Soto, Victor Robles and a (hopefully healthy) Adam Eaton is still pretty fantastic. The addition of Patrick Corbin gives them potentially the best rotation in the league. But at the the end of the day, a thin farm system and a number of aging veterans don’t paint a pretty picture long term, and they’ve got a tough situation with the teams ahead of them on this list in their division. There’s a reasonable case to be made for the Nationals potentially making a deep playoff run next year, but it’s also easy to see them slipping down this list in the coming years. - JW

9. St. Louis Cardinals (8): On to the team that never slips down the list. The Cardinals biggest move of the offseason was to trade from their depth for a year of Goldschmidt, one of the best players in baseball for quite a while. They’ve also added Andrew Miller to address their biggest issue from last year: the bullpen. While it might be unreasonable to expect Miller to return to the player he was over the prior four seasons, he’s almost certainly going to be a better option than what St. Louis was rolling out last year. A bounceback year from Marcell Ozuna and couple more moves to shore up the bullpen, and it’d be a bit surprising to see the Cardinals miss the postseason for an unthinkable fourth year in a row. - JW 

8. Philadelphia Phillies (21): The first of two NL East teams to make a serious jump in the standings this year, the Phillies may have finished the season slightly under .500, but the blueprint for success is there and they’ve been appropriately focused this offseason. So far, they switched out their young but as-of-yet unproven shortstop (J.P. Crawford) for a consistent All Star (Jean Segura) and made room for Rhys Hoskins at first in the same deal by moving Carlos Santana and his salary. There are still some interesting prospects on the way and the are a lot of young, high-ceiling players already there. That’s before you even get to the fact that there’s a some pretty impressive free agents who remain unsigned and the Phillies have been waiting for this moment to start throwing their weight around. - JW 

7. Atlanta Braves (26): Where the Phillies are here based on some expectations of what will happen, the Braves are here because of what has already happened, and they are the recipient of this year’s Biggest Jump Award. Rookie of the Year Ronald Acuña put up MVP numbers in the second half of the season, and Ozzie Albies and Johan Camargo rounded out the youth brigade. Freddie Freeman remains excellent, and there were relatively few holes for a team that contended much earlier than expected. Their addition of Josh Donaldson on a one-year prove-it deal potentially makes their already fearsome lineup one of the best in baseball, and there’s no indication they’re done making moves. They’ve got the best stable of pitching prospects in either league (a whopping 7 pitchers in the top-100 prospects at MLB.com) and, if those players don’t develop as quickly as they hope, they can always add arms via trade. Atlanta’s players here don’t have the more established track records of some of their counterparts on the teams above them on this list, but the Braves look like they’re ready to be a threat for the foreseeable future. - JW

6. Cleveland Indians (4): The Indians have won three straight division titles, but no club has had a stranger start to the offseason. Amid rumors that they’d like to trade one of their top-of-the-rotation starters, Cleveland extended Carlos Carrasco’s contract through 2022. The deal is team-friendly and Carrasco has less trade value than Corey Kluber or Trevor Bauer, but he’ll be 32 in March. They lack talent at the minor league level, which is why trading an established starter makes sense going forward. Even flirting with the notion of moving Kluber underscores how much faith the front office has in Mike Clevinger and Shane Bieber.  Only the Red Sox and Yankees scored more runs than the Indians in 2018, but the offense has already been shuffled a bit with Carlos Santana coming back following the Edwin Encarnacion experiment. - AP

5. Chicago Cubs (5): Whether you think the Cubs belong this high up the list really depends on whether you think the 2018 seasons from so many of their players were were the new normal or simply season-long blips. I’m expecting improvements from the the trio of Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras and Yu Darvish and that alone would make a huge difference in the standings. The rotation was the biggest issue last year, but I just can’t imagine that all of their pitchers (less Kyle Kendricks) will fail to perform, and they still have one of the most talented lineups in all of baseball. The farm is pretty barren and it’s reasonably likely that we’re going to start to see the Cubs trickling down the list in the near future, but we’re not there yet. - JW

4. New York Yankees (3): It took years of tongue-lashing at the hands of George Steinbrenner, but Brian Cashman has developed into the perfect general manager for the Yankees. With more autonomy, he got New York under the tax threshold but Cashman also knows he has more money behind him than all but a few of his contemporaries. The most unfortunate short-term issue is that they share the AL East with the champion Red Sox and winning 100 games may not be enough to avoid the Wild Card game. The farm system took a hit in the James Paxton trade, but the need for pitching was great and the organizational depth is still average. How the Yankees are able to further develop Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar (assuming none are traded) will determine whether Aaron Judge becomes the next Derek Jeter or Don Mattingly. - AP 

3. Los Angeles Dodgers (2): Despite being the unluckiest team in baseball last season and requiring a tiebreaker to win their division, the Dodgers still made it to their second straight World Series. While there were more notable departures this offseason than last, they’ve already addressed some of those by resigning Clayton Kershaw and bringing in Joe Kelly to help in the bullpen. While I’m not sure how I feel about their trading away Yasiel Puig and Alex Wood yet, we’ll have to see what they do with the rest of their offseason (and whether top outfield prospect Alex Verdugo arrives as promised this year). At the end of the day, though, the Dodgers had the best lineup and one of the best rotations in the National League last season and a farm system that’s in much better shape than, say, the Cubs. The Dodgers are still the team to beat in the National League, and it’s far from unclear that they’re finished making improvements. - JW  

2. Houston Astros (1): Winners of 100-plus games in each of the last two seasons, the Astros have transitioned from young upstart to presumed contender in short order. The advantage they have over fellow American League powers like the Yankees, Indians and even Red Sox, is their Major League talent will be supplemented by a top-level farm system in the coming years. While a definite strength, Jeff Luhnow will have to decide whether to let guys like Forrest Whitley marinate in the minor leagues or cash them in for more chips over the short term. The top-heavy nature of the league may not allow them to make that decision until days before this coming July’s non-waiver trade deadline. Nonetheless, it’s a good problem to have. - AP

1. Boston Red Sox (7): Having won four of the last fifteen World Series, the collective chip on the shoulders of Boston now must be manufactured. The core of Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi and J.D. Martinez will center the offense for the next few years. The pitching staff isn’t exactly young -- Chris Sale, David Price and Rick Porcello will all be 30 by April 1 -- but it’s good enough and constructed perfectly for the postseason. The bullpen will be the main source of consternation between now and Opening Day, but Dave Dombrowski isn’t afraid to fortify via trade if free agency continues to deliver more losses than gains. The only true concern for the Red Sox is how the farm system will look once the current window of contention closes. - AP

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