Pete Crow-Armstrong and Owen Caissie – Picture by Todd Johnson

Over the next 36 hours, free agency is going to begin. Over the past five years or so, the hot stove season has been pretty cold in the month of November as teams usually wait for the game’s biggest stars to sign. Last year, we saw a little thawing as teams went after mid range players in the early part of free agency. This year, the Cubs are going to have some decisions to make about who they can actually sign. In a perfect world, The Cubs could go out and sign a few free agents and fill most of the needs of the major league team and get to keep all the top prospects in the system until they are needed for a deadline deal next summer. 

Unfortunately, free agency is really all about the player making a decision that’s best for them and their family. We all would love to see the Cubs go out and get Abreu, Senga, and Turner and totally revamp the ball club. Then they could go out and use some prospect capital to trade for a couple players.

That leads to today’s big question:

What exactly do the Cubs have for prospect capital?

It’s an easy question to answer and it is a tough question to answer.

The easy part is the Cubs have a lot of young outfielders who are filtering up through the system. Double-A is going to be stacked next year at Tennessee with two 20-year-olds and a 21-year-old on opening day. Iowa should have Brennen Davis and Alexander Canario (at some point) on the roster and hopefully Yonathan Perlaza returns as a minor league free agent. 

The small problem is Canario‘s not going to be ready for opening day but there is hope that Brennen Davis will be. And with that being said, that leaves Pete Crow-Armstrong as the most valuable asset the Cubs have this winter. But would the Cubs be crazy to trade PCA when he’s eight months to a year from being ready? Yes, they would be extremely nuts to part with PCA at this point when he is this close to Chicago.

The Cubs have plenty of outfielders coming up behind PCA as well but will most teams instead want guys who are close to major league ready or players lower in the system? Then again, it just depends on the team that they’re trading with. You cannot trade Kevin Alcantara because he has superstar written all over him. Owen Caissie looks to be someone who could be in right field every day as he is only going to get better as he continues to get stronger over the next couple of years.

As I put together my top Cubs prospect list for next week, it’s just astounding how many outfielders the Cubs have close to ready to break out in a big way.

Then again, the team the Cubs trade with may not want outfielders. They may want Matt Mervis – we just don’t know.

The next biggest strength in the Cubs’ system would probably be relievers and nobody’s going to make a deal for relievers. But would other teams trade or want starting pitchers? The Cubs do have a lot of prospect capital in terms of starting pitching depth.

Hayden Wesneski and Ben Brown were just acquired so you can probably cross them off them off any other team’s want list. Caleb Kilian is sort of a tweener right now between Iowa and MLB while Jordan Wicks and DJ Herz will begin 2023 together at Tennessee.

Where the Cubs have the most depth in terms of pitching would be South Bend‘s past and future rotations. Guys like Daniel Palencia, Porter Hodge, Luis Devers, Luke Little, Kohl Franklin, and even Tyler Schlaffer fit that bill. They also have guys would could easily take their place at South Bend in Cade Horton, Connor Noland, and Brandon Birdsell along with younger guys like Drew Gray, Jackson Ferris, and Nazier Mule. The Cubs just have a ton of arms that other teams could covet. However, the big picture is that there has been little starting pitching domination at Tennessee yet except for Walker Powell and Riley Thompson in some respects. It is going to take time for the Cubs’ starting pitchers to get MLB ready.

But viewpoints on prospects differ from organization to organization. Some teams could prefer Canario or PCA over Caissie or Brennen Davis. Some teams might prefer Palencia or Hodge over Wicks and Herz. I can tell you that the two Gregs and I have different takes on many prospects. And we’re not professionals. Just imagine how those conversations go between the Cubs and the other clubs.

What really matters, though, is how other teams evaluate the Cubs’ system and what they think their own system needs. They have their “rankings” of what capital in the Cubs’ organization they think would be a big enough haul for their player.

The bottom line is this the Cubs have plenty of prospect capital in terms of outfielders and starting pitching but it’s just not ready yet. If teams are willing to wait on a couple of players, then the Cubs have a boatload of those guys. That is their biggest strength. Only a few guys that were in Tennessee last year are going to be MLB ready at some point this year. In another year, the Cubs will have a lot of players flooding that demographic. In other words, the capital is good but it is going to be great in a year with more development!