Cubs Have Lost Estimated $126M in Expected Value from Poor Pitching Development

A recent study has estimated that the Cubs’ inability to develop pitching prospects has cost the organization $126 million over the last X years. Wow. These findings were published a few months ago by Driveline Baseball, an innovative data-driven performance center research center located south of Seattle.

Driveline founder Kyle Boddy has been at the forefront of pitching development, specifically when it comes to increased velocity and injury prevention, and recently interviewed for an unspecified position within the Cubs organization. Imagine showing up to an interview data quantifying just how much your prospective employer’s failures have cost them.

Shown below is a complete value estimation for every farm system. Most notable is that the Dodgers and Astros have produced nearly half a billion dollars in value by developing prospects. Also eye-catching is that the Cardinals have produced an estimated $350 million value.

The prospect pipeline that the Cubs’ front office intended to create has produced anything but a steady flow of contributors. While they’re at a net positive in terms of position players, the highly publicized failure to develop pitching has them about $102 million in the hole. No wonder they saw the need to shake things up at the minor-league level of the org.

The Cubs won a World Series with one of the youngest cores in MLB history, but many of those players were acquired through trade or free agency. For instance, Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, Addison Russell, Jason Heyward, Dexter Fowler, and the entire pitching staff were all byproducts of trades or signings. Javy Báez was drafted by Jim Hendry (you know you’re writing a sad post when Hendry’s name is mentioned). In fact, the only international free agents or non first-round draftees that have been contributors over the last few years are Willson Contreras and David Bote.

The Cubs’ inability to develop players is simply unacceptable. To be almost half a billion dollars worse than the Cardinals at developing prospects over this decade makes me sick. Expect big changes this offseason, folks, and don’t get too attached to your favorite players.


  1. When it comes to some of the names we know, this sort of thing makes me wonder what the thought process is behind needing to unload some of those players. In other words, is the problem that the Cubs drafted or signed the wrong players, or is it that they failed to develop them properly once they were drafted or signed. If, as this data seems to imply, the problem is development, wouldn’t it be logical to simply work with a lot of the talent you already have in house? I’m not saying all, but I have a hard time believing that a player who had the talent to be drafted in the upper part of the first round, by the Cubs or someone else, is a lost cause at age 25. I fully recognize draft status is not a sure fire indicator of future success at the major league level, but I also have a hard time looking at players like Almora, Jr, Russell, or Happ and thinking they have nothing to offer.

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