I have a funny game that I'd like to play. It's no secret that the Cubs have been tremendously lucky over the past 4 years, drafting-wise (and even Almora is good from 5 drafts ago). What shocked me is just how good the Cubs have been – they could easily have not had an opportunity to take Bryant or Schwarber and ended up with them both. Happ was the 9th pick in the draft his year, and looks better than many drafted ahead of him. That got me thinking. Which package would you rather have:
Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, Ian Happ
Jon Gray, Kohl Stewart, Clint Frazier, Colin Moran, Nick Gordon, Alex Jackson, Aaron Nola, Kyle Freeland, Cornelius Randolph, Tyler Stephenson, Josh Naylor, Garrett Whitley
Option 1 is who the Cubs drafted. Option 2 is the 4 players afterwards in each of the drafts. There's a lot to unpack, so let's organize those 12.
Flotsam (projected lifetime WAR of 1.0 or less)
Alex Jackson, Cornelius Randolph, Tyler Stephenson, Josh Naylor
Intriguing (org top 10, not top 101)
Kohl Stewart, Kyle Freeland, Garrett Whitley
Nice Prospects (top 101 prospects)
Clint Frazier, Nick Gordon
Role Players (bench pieces, back-end starters)
Jon Gray, Aaron Nola
First, let's start with Ian Happ. I think he's probably worth all the intriguing guys and flotsam combined – in fact, the Cubs would probably need a little more than that in the theoretical trade. Still, it's close enough, and it's a 7-for-1. Stewart is probably a 7th inning guy, and Freeland (who I still like a lot) profiles as a 5th starter/Travis Wood type. Out of the other 5, you'd be surprised if you got a bench piece, but they were first rounders for a reason.
Next, let's deal with Schwarber. If the Cubs traded Schwarber, they'd clearly be able to get Gordon and Frazier, with Moran as more-or-less a throw-in. Frazier is a legit stud prospect, and Gordon is probably a starting 2B in the near future. Moran is a corner infielder on the bench, but that's still a valuable piece for a rookie contract. I don't think you could get Gray or Nola AND the rest of that package, though – just look at the price that young pitching has commanded recently.
That said, Bryant could return Gray and Nola and the Cubs would need way more to say yes to that. This seems obvious. I'm super-high on Gray, but super-high means that "I think he can solve his high-leverage problems and become a No.3 starter." Aaron Nola is a No.3 starter right now. Kris Bryant is the 2nd, 3rd or 4th best player in baseball depending on how you feel about Kershaw and Donaldson.
Put it all together, and I think you'd pretty convincingly rather have Happ, Schwarber, and Bryant over the 12 players drafted after them. That's sort of unbelievable to think about, and yet it's extremely plausible. Moreover, you'd probably agree with each one for each year:
2013 – Bryant over Gray, Stewart, Frazier, Moran (this is probably close, but edge to Bryant certainly)
2014 – Schwarber over Gordon, Jackson, Nola, Freeland (again, this is probably close, maybe even dead even, but Schwarber is the highest impact and a relative sure thing)
2015 – Happ over Randolph, Stephenson, Naylor, Whitley (this isn't close)
That's just some incredible, incredible drafting by JedCo. We are extremely fortunate.