The Cubs have traded: Eloy Jimenez, Dylan Cease, Matt Rose and Bryant Flete to the White Sox for Jose Quintana. This one is truly a mega-story. This is one of the biggest inner-city trades in baseball history, and has the potential to shape each organization’s paths for years to come.
Cubs fans, I know what you’re thinking: “How could we give up our top two prospects (Jimenez and Cease) for a guy who is 4-8 with a 4.49 ERA this year?” The answer is complicated but I’ll try to break it down: First off Quintana is under a team-friendly contract (5yrs/$26.5M) through 2018 with a team option for 2019 and 2020. This fills a gap in the rotation that has been a huge concern for the Cubs going forward. Second, he is, historically, a very, very good pitcher. Between 2015-2016 only one pitcher in the AL had a higher WAR than Quintana (9.6), and that was Corey Kluber. Third, he’s relatively young at only 28 you’d like to believe the next 3-5 years would be the prime of his career. Finally, he’s a lefty–Jon Lester has been only lefty in the rotation (not including Montgomery) the last two seasons, this gives the Cubs more of a balance.
This move also shows that this front office still has very high hopes for Ian Happ, Albert Almora, and Kyle Schwarber. There’s no doubt that Eloy Jimenez has the potential to be a star, but Theo and co. showed that the faith they have in their current group of outfielders, and the need for starting pitching, outweighed Jimenez’s potential.
Also to be noted, I think that Quintana’s struggles this year can be attributed to playing under the dark cloud of trade rumors. As a matter of fact, since the trade deadline last season, Quintana’s name has been constantly brought up in trade discussions. The White Sox deal sending Chris Sale to Boston this off-season proved to Quintana that the White Sox were in a full rebuild and his trade was no longer a matter of “if”, but “when.” It is hard to go out every fifth day and pitch for a club you know is trying to get rid of you.
In the end I think this trade will go down as a win for both sides of town. However, a big failure or great success on either end would result in trash talk ammunition for the ages. One thing’s certain: it won’t be soon forgotten by Chicago baseball fans.
-Micah Schaffer @ultramicbeam