Limited Value Set to Shrink on Cubs' Betting Futures

The 2017 Chicago Cubs roster features a perfect mix of blossoming young talent on the cusp of their primes and proven veterans who are among the best in baseball at their respective positions. Bettors shouldn’t be surprised to see the Cubs at the top of the World Series futures oddsboard entering the regular season, which is a spot they should hover around all season long, unless they suffer an epic collapse.

Gone from 2016’s championship roster is Aroldis Chapman, who was quickly replaced by former Royal Wade Davis as the team’s closer. Center-fielder Dexter Fowler also changed uniforms, which conveniently paves the way for 2012’s sixth overall draft pick, Albert Almora, who’ll have a shot at earning a full-time role.

Sportsbooks will see plenty of action this season on the Cubbies, given their gigantic fan base, including a fresh load of bandwagon followers, but what’s the right approach to take entering a new season?

Here’s an analysis of the Cubs’ futures odds for 2017:

World Series +450

Going back to back as a World Series champion isn’t easy. It hasn’t happened since the Yankees won three in a row from 1998 to 2000, but the current makeup of this Cubs roster makes them a strong candidate to repeat, which would make them the first National League team to do so since the Reds in 1975 and 1976.

In terms of value, that +450 price tag isn’t great, but it’s a much more profitable number than what they were offering for the most part of last season. With that said, futures betting is all about timing and the time is now to make this bet if you like the North Siders to go all the way. The other option, which might not be available, is to wait, see if they stumble a bit to open the season, then see what their odds are then.

There’s no reason to think that the Cubs won’t be back in the mix come October. Their talented group of 25-and-unders should only get better and they have the experience of a World Series run under their belts. On paper entering the 2017 season, they deserve the distinction of being called baseball’s best team, so bet away before that “value” shrinks up even more.

National League Pennant +175

I’ve established that Chicago is very much on par with last season’s World Series-winning roster, so when determining if the Cubs can get back to the World Series, we must ask ourselves how far their top competitors in the NL have come since last season.

The Dodgers return a rock-solid roster, but didn’t make any difference-making additions in the offseason. The Mets boast the most electric starting rotation in baseball, but they can’t stay healthy. The Nationals are an elite regular-season performer, but they choke come playoff time.

There’s lots of ‘buts’ in there, but ultimately this comes down to their +175 odds, which is a ripoff. I feel like this is a spot where sportsbooks take advantage of overzealous fans and I’d advise against getting sucked in. Save your Cubs betting dollars for individual game bets or treat yourself to a nice seafood dinner.

National League Central -500

This bet isn’t worth making. How many times have we seen a perennial favorite get derailed by injuries and fall short of oddsmakers’ lofty expectations? Many. The division as a whole is top-heavy with the Cardinals joining the Cubs as the only legit contenders, but to lay a bet on -500 odds with 162 games ahead of us is the definition of a poor value bet. Move along.

OVER/UNDER Win Total – 95.5

The Cubs have the highest win total in the league, coming in two games higher than the Dodgers. Still, the OVER looks like the bet to make considering they won 103 games last season, they’re returning a very similar lineup and the NL Central is a relatively thin division. This is a total that they’ve topped in two straight seasons and there’s no evidence that regression is forthcoming.

Jake Arrieta for Cy Young +1600

It’s not a coincidence when professional athletes have great seasons in contract years and it’s something player prop bettors and fantasy players should pay attention to before a season begins. After watching David Price and Zack Greinke get inflated contracts last offseason, Arrieta will be looking to strike it rich after this season, which should provide extra motivation to get back to where he was in 2014 and 2015.

Arrieta was strong in 2016, but saw his ERA climb to 3.10, which is far removed from 1.77 in his Cy Young campaign of 2015 and 2.53 the year prior. One concern in Arrieta’s 2016 campaign is that he basically got worse as the regular season went on, but he bounced back in the World Series by going 2-0 with a 2.38 ERA and 15 Ks, proving that he’s worthy of a big-money contract.

At 31 years old, Arrieta is still very much in his prime and offers nice value to win the NL Cy Young at +1600. He’s not the pitcher Clayton Kershaw is — +160 odds to win the award — but offers 10 times the profit that the Dodgers ace does and plays on a team that will provide more run support.

2017 Chicago Cubs Futures Odds
Market Odds
World Series +450
National League Pennant +175
National League Central -500
Win Totals  95.5

Odds as of March 14 at Sportsbook