The Chicago Cubs are set to be competitive for years with their nucleus of 20-somethings, but at this juncture their price tag on the 2017 World Series champion futures board is far too low.
While no team has repeated as champs since the three-peat by the New York Yankees from 1998 to 2000, the Cubs top the board at +450 at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The Boston Red Sox, who added LHP Chris Sale to their rotation and also have a strong lineup, are the second favorite at +500.
The Cubs, who are led off the field by president Theo Epstein, a three-time World Series-winning executive, also have a young core with 3B Kris Bryant, 1B Anthony Rizzo and SS Addison Russell. But +450, or 9/2 odds, are little bang for the buck. The same might be said of the aforementioned Red Sox at +500, or 5/1.
The off-season moves, or lack thereof, from the Cleveland Indians (+800) and Washington Nationals (+900) are also concerning, at this time. Cleveland added right-handed power by getting a bargain price on DH-1B Edwin Encarnacion, but a team built around pitching and defense has a big question mark in centerfield, where backup Tyler Naquin is first up to try to win the job.
The Nationals, with superstar RF Bryce Harper in his second-last year before being eligible for free agency, were also quiet.
The time may be now to get in on the Los Angeles Dodgers (+1400), who were the third-best team in MLB last season even though LHP extraordinaire Clayton Kershaw was limited to 21 starts by injuries. The Dodgers also have the resources to add talent before the July 31 trade deadline, if necessary.
The St. Louis Cardinals (+2000) and Baltimore Orioles (+3300) are each a bit under the radar. The thread that ties both together is that they have each been postseason regulars while playing in deep divisions that are probably going to be shallower in 2017.
In the Orioles’ AL East, both the New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays are projected to take a step back. The Cardinals have the Cubs to contend with in the NL Central, but the Pittsburgh Pirates seem set to fold their hand and move on from CF Andrew McCutchen.
Spring training begins in a matter of days, with Opening Day slated for April 2.