By: Noah Wright
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Many teams have built of their farm systems, and cleared enough payroll space, that they could be in playoff talk for years to come. Teams mainly do this through the rebuilding process. Some teams do this better than others, and set themselves up for long term success. Let’s take a look at teams that are best set-up to be in contention for many years.
1.) Atlanta Braves
The Braves entered the season, nearing the end of their rebuilding process. While they weren't expected to compete in The NL East this year, they’ve surprised many with a 37-28 record, which leads The NL East. They’ve done this by building a very young core. Youthful middle infielders Dansby Swanson and Ozzie Albies have both showed a lot of promise at the big league level, as well as top prospect Ronald Acuna. After some mediocre years, 26 year old Mike Foltynewicz has had a very good break out year with an outstanding 2.31 ERA, 1.189 WHIP, and 2.98 FIP with a career high 10.7 K/9 rate in 74 innings. Former top prospect Sean Newcomb has also done well with a 2.92 ERA, 1.230 WHIP, and 3.40 FIP in 74 innings as well. Their bullpen is also fairly young, with closer Arodys Vizcaino in his age 27 season, set-up man A.J. Winker in his age 24 season, and Shane Carel in his age 28 season. Already proven stars like Freddie Freeman and Ender Inciarte are under contract until 2022. The Braves also have an elite farm system. Currently, they have 8 prospects listed as top 100 prospects (according to mlb.com). With The Braves young core, and amazing farm, The Braves are likely going to be in contention for a long period of time.
2.) Toronto Blue Jays
If you ask me, The Blue Jays are in a very good place right now. Veterans Josh Donaldson, J.A. Happ, and Curtis Granderson are at the end of their contracts, and The Blue Jays could capitalize on that, and trade them for whatever they can get back at the deadline. But they don’t need to go into full rebuild mode. Their rotation will be headlined by young starters Aaron Sanchez, and Marcus Stroman. While both have seen their fair share of struggles this year, both have shown that they can be ace level potential. Like The Braves, The Jays have a very good farm system. Vlad Guerrero Jr. is on the cusp of being MLB ready, and so is Anthony Alford. Middle infield top prospect Bo Bichette is also nearly ready for MLB action as well. Catching prospect Danny Jansen has also shown promise in Triple-A this season. If they can add some starting pitchers, and a decent first base bat to the line-up after Justin Smoak leaves, The Blue Jays could be up there with The Red Sox and Yankees if prospects turn out well.
3.) Philadelphia Phillies
Like The Braves, The Phillies were not NL East Contenders, as they were nearing the end of the rebuilding process, but currently have a somewhat surprising 33-30 record, good for 3rd place in The NL East and 3 games out of the division. While former top prospect, Rhys Hoskins has not been fantastic this season, Hoskins broke onto the scene last year with a .259/.296/.618 line with a whopping 18 home runs, 48 RBI’s, and 155 wRC+ showing he can more than handle the bat at the major league level. Another former prospect who’s best known for being a part of the Cole Hamels deal back in 2015, Jorge Alfaro also showed a lot of promise last year with a .318/.360/.514 batting line with 5 home runs, 14 RBI’s and 127 wRC+. 25 year old starter Aaron Nola looks like a Cy Young candidate with a 2.35 ERA, .960 WHIP, 2.79 FIP, with a good 8.5 K/9 opposing just 2.3 walks/9 in 84.1 innings of work. They’ve also have proven veterans, first baseman Carlos Santana, and starting pitcher Jake Arrieta also have a handful of years of control after this year. While youngster J.P. Crawford and newly extended Scott Kingery have yet to find their footing in The Bigs, they were once highly touted prospects. They’re farm system is also decent, with young starter Sixto Sanchez leading the way. With many young players under control, many showing much promise, and with money to spend, it’s hard not to see The Phillies big contenders in The East for a long time.
4.) San Diego Padres
While The Padres don’t have much decent major league talent currently, it’s their farm that really sets them up. Right now, they have 6 prospects in the top 100 list according to mlb.com. With the major league talent they do have, former prospect Manuel Margot has shown he can handle Major League pitching, because he did last year. Eric Hosmer (who’s under contract until 2025 but with an opt out in 2022) has continued to be a good contact hitter, with a .287 average and a career high 39.2% hard hit rate. Wil Myers, who is controlled up until 2023, can also be a good bat when he’s not on the DL. Austin Hedges, another former top prospect, while he can’t make consistent contact yet in The MLB, he’s shown he can be a good power hitter, and a very defensively skilled catcher. If prospects turn out as expected, The Padres could really give The Dodgers, D-Backs, and Rockies a run for their money in the near future.
5.) NY Yankees
While The Yankees never went through a full rebuilding process, they have many homegrown players on their team, who aren’t free agents for a long time. This includes slugger Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and rookies who’ve been very good at The Major League Level, Gleyber Torres, and Miguel Andujar. When he’s consistently healthy, Greg Bird can also be a producer at the plate. Giancarlo Stanton will be a Yankee for the foreseeable future, and Didi Gregorius will be under control until 2020. While they have tons of control and good players on the surface, it’s their farm system that really shines. MLB.com currently gives The Yankees 4 top 100 prospects. With the good farm system, and money to spend, The Yankees should be contenders for a long time, and go deep into the playoffs, but then again, who’s ever seen them not be contenders?
6.) Chicago White Sox
The White Sox started their rebuilding process back in the 2016-2017 off-season. Because of trading Chris Sale, and Adam Eaton, The White Sox completely restocked their farm, by adding Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez to highlight the big names. So far, Moncada has shown power and speed, but not contact, but he still is only 23. Reynaldo Lopez has had a decent season so far, with a 3.26 ERA, 1.216 WHIP and 4.40 FIP in 77.1 innings. While Giolito has struggled this season, he had a good year in 2017. All-Star first baseman Jose Abreu is still a very productive line-up piece. Matt Davidson has also improved, now with a .350 OBP on the season. The farm system is also one of the best in The AL, with 7 prospects in the top 100. The White Sox are in a very similar position as The Padres. If they’re prospects develop as expected, they could easily overtake a fairly weak AL Central within the next year or two.