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.
The MLB has an ever-changing landscape but this creation of a hierarchal ranking gives a look to how we would choose their collective situations at the end of 2016. Last year's rankings are in parenthesis, which you can also read here.
30. San Diego Padres (20): Deciding who deserves the extreme spots on this list is a tough job, and that goes doubly for determining who deserves the ignominy of last place. The dubious distinction this year goes to the Padres, as they continue to struggle to recover from the ill-fated all-in gamble known as “Prellerpalooza.” Without even discussing the front office, the Pads are clearly a team in transition, as Wil Myers alone does not a contending team make. The prospect cabinet is starting to look a little less barren, but most of those players are still in the lower minors and there just isn’t enough there to have much hope for San Diego to break through into baseball’s upper tier during the time frame we’re talking about, especially in the particularly rough NL West. - JW
29. Minnesota Twins (19): The Twins have an above-average farm system, including three players that began 2016 as top-50 talents (Byron Buxton, Jose Berrios and Max Kepler). It was Kepler that delivered the most this past season with a .734 OPS and 17 home runs. While there is plenty of young talent, the grace period for a rebuild is wearing out. They have finished last in the AL Central four of the last six seasons. If they trade Brian Dozier before spring training, finishing higher than fourth would be quite an overachievement. - AP
28. Arizona Diamondbacks (15): Arizona looked like they might be a sleeper pick last season with a few breaks. Then they put up the worst run differential of non-rebuilding team (-138) and barely eked out a 4th place finish over San Diego by just one game. They’d certainly like a gimme on the terribad Shelby Miller trade which helped bump the Braves further up the list. They’ve still got two more years of A.J. Pollock and Paul Goldschmidt, but with the money tied up with Greinke and the lack of prospects to make any impact trades, it looks like they gambled away their window to take advantage of the head start those players gave them and are going to have a tough time breaking through in their division. - JW
27. Cincinnati Reds (30): With the Reds, we’re no doubt looking at a rebuilding team, but one that’s starting to wander in from the darkness. It took them far too long to sell off some of their players and they paid a steep price for it, but the farm is functioning again and they have quite a few interesting prospects who should be showing up as early as next season. While it’s far too early to bump them out of the basement, it’s enough to graduate them from the last place spot they held last year. - JW
26. Milwaukee Brewers (29): The Brewers are in a situation and timeline similar to the Reds in terms of rebuilding. However, Milwaukee was able to get some better prospects in their respective trades, which gives them an edge up on the Reds. The hitting, in particular, is going to be painful to watch this year, but the trades that they’ve made this calendar year (and the Jonathan Lucroy trade in particular) are enough to give Brewers fans hope for the future and, as with the Reds, move them up a few notches from the next-to-last spot in the list where they sat last year. -JW
25. Oakland Athletics (25): Coming off back-to-back sub-70 win seasons, the Athletics continue to look toward the future with Sonny Gray perpetually on the trade block. It seems like a lifetime ago, but Oakland made three-straight playoff appearances from 2012-14. After hitting a combined 49 home runs in 2014 and 2015, Khris Davis exploded for 42 this past season. Without his production, the A’s (653 runs, last in AL) would be even more challenged offensively. The A’s love prospects with raw tools and Grant Holmes, Renato Nunez and Matt Chapman are teeming with them. -AP
24. Chicago White Sox (17): The White Sox disappointed on the field, but immediately made the future much brighter when they finally traded Chris Sale and followed that up by sending Adam Eaton to the Nationals for quite the haul. The prize acquisitions from the deals are Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez. Rick Hahn has done a nice job executing a rebuild thus far, but how he finishes it will matter most. Is Jose Abreu the next to be dealt? Will they fast track the players at the top of their farm system or play a long game? -AP
23. Miami Marlins (27): Another year, another debate about where in the heck to place the Marlins on a list like this. In 2016, they had one of the best outfields in the game, despite Giancarlo Stanton turning in his worst season to date. J.T Realmuto improved quite a bit offensively last year and was quietly one of the best catchers in baseball. The rotation has a lot of question marks, due in no small part to the unfortunate passing of Jose Fernandez, but the Marlins have a lot of excellent position players around for a while. If they could just sort out their pitching situation a bit, they would surely climb up the standings. -JW
22. Los Angeles Angels (18): We’re reached the point in which a Mike Trout trade should be a very real possibility. As selfish as it sounds, Trout’s prime years are being wasted on a non-contending Angels club that has been stunted by ownership. Ben Revere, who signed a one-year deal, has been the team’s biggest addition so far, which isn’t going to light the world on fire. There are questions marks up-and-down the remainder of the roster and Albert Pujols signed some signs of age with diminished power (.480 to .457 SLG) over the last year. -AP
21. Kansas City Royals (4): A little over a year removed from winning the World Series, the chances of another title over the short-term suddenly seem very slim. No team made a steeper drop on our list. It wasn’t the .500 season or lack of a postseason berth that worried us, but rather a host of upcoming free agents and the potential for an adjustment in focus from the major league roster to the farm system. Here are just some of players that will be free agents after the 2017 season – Eric Hosmer, Alcides Escobar, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain and Danny Duffy. Changes are coming. -AP
20. Colorado Rockies (26): Like the last NL team we discussed, the Marlins, the Rockies will always be a tough team to figure out, albeit for different reasons. Last offseason, we weren’t really sure whether they were going full rebuild after trading Troy Tulowitzki or not. The pitching fared a lot better last year and could portend better things for Colorado in the future. While signing Ian Desmond to potentially playing first was one of the stranger moves of the offseason, it’s too early to say whether they plan to take advantage of his versatility or whether another trade is in the works. Regardless, the biggest issue has been finding pitchers who can succeed at and away from Coors Field and if they are starting to figure that out, we might expect them to continue on an upward trajectory in these rankings, especially as their farm is in pretty good shape in the event that they find themselves in the mix for a postseason spot and need to pick up an impact player. -JW
19. Atlanta Braves (24): Barring some “the baseball gods must be crazy” nonsense, the Braves aren’t going to be battling with the Nationals or Mets for the division for a year or two, but they are certainly at a point where we can start to envision the perpetually competitive Braves of yesteryear. At just 22, Dansby Swanson looks like he’s going to be helping the Braves out at short for years. Ender Inciarte just got locked down for five years (with a team option for six) and Freddie Freeman is coming off his best season and is signed for five more years. There is a lot of pitching on the way in the minors and, while it won’t be here this year, there’s a young core of great players already here and here for a while. The fact that they navigated this offseason pretty much perfectly certainly doesn’t hurt. –JW
18. Baltimore Orioles (23): The Red Sox are the class of the AL East but with the Blue Jays losing key parts and Yankees and Rays still rebuilding, there is a window for the Orioles to contend for a Wild Card berth in 2017 and 2018. Whether or not that happens will depend on how Chris Tillman follows up the best season of his career and how Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy continue to develop. The “window” for the Orioles is sooner rather than later as the farm system leaves much to be desired. -AP
17. Tampa Bay Rays (22): Over the past three seasons the Rays have finished a combined 57 games back in the AL East. They are terrible, but are in a difficult spot with stars Evan Longoria and Chris Archer on a roster that in thin elsewhere. Will they follow the expected path and deal Archer and/or Longoria for potential or attempt to remain relevant with shrewd additions? To this point, tinkering seems to be the preferred track to getting better. They signed Wilson Ramos, coming off major knee surgery, to a deal that could become one of the best of the winter. If he is pre-injury Ramos from this past season, it could be one of the best tinkers we’ve seen. -AP
16. Philadelphia Phillies (28): While the Phillies failed to follow through on their hot start to their 2016, that in no way slowed their rocketing up the list from last year. A large part of that is due to the development of young starters (Aaron Nola, Vince Velasquez and Jerad Eickhoff). They’ve been navigating the minefield that is this offseason in a particularly smart way, making a couple of trades with lesser farm pieces to bring back Clay Buchholz and Howie Kendrick. Those moves added salary (which wasn’t going to be used by a rebuilding/rich team otherwise) and a couple of intriguing players with upside who could potentially be useful trade pieces at the deadline. As with some of the other teams who have worked their way out of the basement, the Phillies aren’t quite there yet, but they have the building blocks of a team that’s going to be contending soon in place, they have a strong farm system and they have lots and lots of money to take advantage of free agency when there are actually good players to be got.
15. Detroit Tigers (13): Only the Blue Jays fielded an older roster than the Tigers this past season and they haven’t yet taken a dip in the fountain of youth. Michael Fulmer and Daniel Norris have the potential to be rotational pieces for the next decade, but Justin Verlander and Jordan Zimmermann are on the exact opposite timeline. Ian Kinsler, Miguel Cabrera, Justin Upton and Victor Martinez logged the most at-bats on the roster in 2016 and Upton is the youngest (29) and also least productive of the group. Could they win a World Series in the next handful of years? Their level of star power says maybe, but a lot will have to fall into place. -AP
14. Toronto Blue Jays (10): Toronto is coming off back-to-back ALCS appearances, but a third has become increasingly unlikely as the offseason has progressed. They worked quick to sign Kendrys Morales and Steve Pearce, who will replace Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista, who hit the market at the wrong time and didn’t find the Blue Jays to be as nostalgic as we expected just a few months ago. How they develop the farm system and fortify the roster over the next 18 months will go a long way to determining the extent of a rebuild. They still have Troy Tulowitzki and Josh Donaldson on the left side of the infield and young arms in Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman. -AP
13. San Francisco Giants (11): Thanks to all of the even years this decade prior to 2016, the Giants’ farm system hasn’t been daunting for a while. They have a definite window with their current core and little in the way of replacements waiting in the wings. That being said, all of their big recent moves (the Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija and Mark Melancon signings and the Matt Moore trade) seem to be focused on taking advantage of that window. Last year, the bullpen was the Giants’ biggest issue but the addition of Melancon and a little regression towards the mean for the other relievers should fix the bullpen and a full year of Moore bodes well for their chances to make the postseason again. The Giants’ mostly homegrown lineup continues to be one of the best in baseball and they certainly have the pieces to make another run with this group, even if the Dodgers are going to make it tough for them to avoid the Wild Card game. -JW
12. Texas Rangers (12): Ian Desmond and Carlos Beltran are gone, but neither were long-term plays. Whether or not the Rangers can contend for a championship soon will depend on how they develop their young hitters. Nomar Mazara, Joey Gallo and Jurickson Profar form a young trio that many teams would love to have, but they barely have a combined 1,000 at-bats under their belts. When, or if, they reach their potential, where will Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish be? How about Adrian Beltre? Can Josh Hamilton be saved from both himself and further injury? -AP
11. New York Mets (3): That the Mets slid this far down the list so quickly is simply a meditation on the fragility of pitchers. That said, a rotation with Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz and Matt Harvey is something most teams would kill for. While it’s crazy to think that we’re talking about losing Bartolo Colon at this point as something that might hurt your chances the following season, his departure certainly diminishes the Mets depth in the event that they’re dealing with starter injuries again next year. Even though they resigned Yoenis Cespedes, the Mets still don’t have a lineup that is going to bludgeon other teams into submission, but as long as they get some health in their young rotation, they really don’t need to hit that much to win a bunch of games and stay in the mix for the postseason. – JW
10. St. Louis Cardinals (7): The Cardinals are, as always, continuing to churn out quality players that keep them hovering near the top, even if they’ve dropped a little from last year. The Dexter Fowler signing may be somewhat un-Cardinal-like, but the emergence of Aledmys Diaz as an All Star who got Rookie of the Year votes is just your typical Cardinals. What the Cardinals may lack in superstar power at this point, they make up for in lack of glaring weaknesses in their lineup. Carlos Martinez is the Cardinals’ latest homegrown addition to the rotation and looks to be blossoming into one of the better pitchers in the game. Obviously, playing in the same division as the Cubs means starting off with some ground to make up for the time being, but the Cardinals perpetually pull players out of their hat and they seemingly refuse to leave the postseason mix, ever. -JW
9. Seattle Mariners (21): The Angels may be wasting Mike Trout’s prime years, but the Mariners have nearly wasted Felix Hernandez’s entire career. Seattle hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2001 when they lit the Major Leagues on fire with 116 wins. Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager are a nice 1-2-3 on offense, but upgrades could be made elsewhere and while they surpassed expectations in 2016 the farm system isn’t highly regarded within the industry. -AP
8. Pittsburgh Pirates (9): The Pirates have been playing the balancing act of a small market team who has been contending for a while, and they’ve been succeeding at it. Deals like the smart one that they just signed for Ivan Nova, who while not a sexy player was had at a relative bargain, continue to make the organization look smart and should keep the Pirates in the Wild Card mix every year. Whether we’ll see Andrew McCutchen play a longer than one-game postseason series or he’ll be flipped to keep feeding the machine is an interesting question, but it’s tough to believe that the Pirates and their excellent outfield and rotation won’t make it past the play-in game before too long. The fact that they have one the best and deepest farms certainly doesn’t hurt, either. –JW
7. New York Yankees (16): Deep pockets make a championship possible over almost any two-year window, but what Brian Cashman has done this offseason is a bit puzzling. He dealt nearly every veteran bat he had at his disposal for prospects this past summer (which is exactly what he should have done) but then signed Aroldis Chapman, one of those traded players, to a five-year, $86 million deal -- the highest ever for a reliever. New York’s younger core won’t likely be ready for primetime until 2018 at the earliest when Chapman will already be midway through his monster deal. -AP
6. Houston Astros (2): Missing the playoffs was disappointing, but the Astros are still primed for success over the next handful of seasons. They added Josh Reddick and Carlos Beltran to a middling offense and while they could use some upgrades in the rotation they have a staff that remains capable of catching fire. Dallas Keuchel will be the key to have far they can go. Is he the ace we saw in 2015 or the below-average starter we saw in 2016? The answer lies somewhere in between. -AP
5. Cleveland Indians (14): So close to winning a World Series in that epic Game 7 against the Cubs, Cleveland has a good chance to return to the grand stage next year with better health. Terry Francona’s pitching staff was in shambles by the time the postseason arrived, but he still managed to guide them to within a few outs of a title. The outfield could be more dangerous offensively -- a healthy Michael Brantley could solve that, but we’ve been here before -- and the addition of Edwin Encarnacion could be a near wash with Mike Napoli’s excellent production moving on. Even after moving Clint Frazier, the Indians also have one of the best farm systems in the AL. -AP
4. Washington Nationals (6): The Nationals had the 2nd best run differential in the NL in 2016 (+151), won 95 games and their division handily, despite the fact that Bryce Harper was playing baseball like a merely really good player instead of a superstar. While it might be unreasonable to expect Daniel Murphy to continue to carry the offense again, it might also be unreasonable not to expect Harper to bounce back (especially with his career low BABIP last season). The Nationals had one of the best rotations in baseball last year and they should again next year. Honestly, the fact that the Nationals come in where they do on the list speaks more to the what’s going on with the teams ahead of them and issues with age among some of their players. -JW
3. Chicago Cubs (1): Perhaps we’re just being contrarian by not putting the Cubs at the top of the list again, because it would surprise exactly no one if the Cubs winning back-to-back World Series. Last year, the Cubs had the best combination of hitting and defense for position players and one of the best rotations to go along with it. It was a shame that they couldn’t come away with a top-tier closer this offseason, but the combo of Koji Uehara and Wade Davis should work as a fallback. While all of the trades that they’ve made have sapped the farm a bit, they have so much young talent on the field right now, they will be in the mix for years as-is. –JW
2. Boston Red Sox (8): All too often clubs focus so much on the future that they forget sports is largely a “now” business. Maybe Yoan Moncada becomes a star for the White Sox, but he wasn’t going to move the needle for the Red Sox soon and Boston’s young Major League studs are ready now. Chris Sale has long been underappreciated while pitching for Chicago’s less heralded team, but he’ll get more attention than he’ll ever be comfortable with in the AL East. If David Price pitches better than he did in his debut campaign with the Red Sox, the window is open for them to win while still maintaining high talent levels at all three stages -- minors, young, controllable starters and high-priced veterans. They aren’t the Golden State Warriors of Major League Baseball, but they could be the Cleveland Cavaliers. -AP
1. Los Angeles Dodgers (5): While the current incarnation of the Dodgers haven’t yet figured out the formula for a pennant, much less a World Series victory, this is a team that looks like they’re built to keep pulling up a chair at the postseason table and will figure out how to win it all before too long. They have the deepest farm in the upper tier of contenders and they have the deepest pocketbooks in all of baseball. They have the best pitcher on the planet in Clayton Kershaw, arguably the best closer in Kenley Jansen and more depth than any other team in terms of starting pitching, even if there are a lot of injury prone folks in the mix. They didn’t let their free agents take off and got them back at better than market rates. What’s really intimidating is the fact that they’re about to have a bunch of financial considerations off the books in time for some marquee free agents to hit the shelves. As of late they’ve come to be known for their Cardinals-esque ability to develop players, their ability to hang on to their best prospects when they do make trades and their endless supply of money to throw at whatever problems they do have, and all of this bumps them up to the top this year. Bet against them at your own peril, because they seem to have a formula for long-term success worked out and it shouldn’t be too long before they put it all together. -JW