Alright everybody, take a deep breath. If you haven’t figured it out yet, this morning the White Sox traded José Quintana to the Cubs for OF Eloy Jiménez, RHP Dylan Cease, 1B Matt Rose, and INF Bryant Flete. I don’t think there are too many people – if anyone – who can say they predicted this would be the landing spot for Quintana. As Chuck Garfien said: “How the White Sox and Cubs kept this quiet without it getting leaked and announced it at the same time is pretty impressive.” Let’s take a look at how this trade works out for both the Cubs and the Sox:
Chicago White Sox: “The Rebuild Continues”
The White Sox just added four new prospects to the fold, and by trading with the Cubs, have shown their commitment to the finding the best possible trade deal. OF Eloy Jiménez was a participant in the Futures Game earlier this week, and is ranked as Baseball America’s #5 prospect and MLB Pipeline’s #8 prospect. RHP Dylan Cease is Baseball America’s #80 prospect and MLB Pipeline’s #63 prospect. This season, Jiménez is hitting .271/.351/.490 with 8 home runs and 32 RBI’s in High A. Cease is 1-2 with a 2.79 ERA in Low A. Jiménez and Cease were the Cubs’ #1 and #2 prospects, respectively, according to MLB.com. Both Matt Rose (.227, 14 HR, 38 RBI) and Bryant Flete (.305, 6 HR, 37 RBI) are in High A, but are not among the Cubs’ Top 30 prospects. This fact itself is not extremely worrisome, because the Cubs have been loaded with young talent for quite awhile. It will be more interesting to see where they rank among the White Sox’s farm system.
For the White Sox, this is another move in the rebuilding process. Jiménez will probably be the best prospect traded this season, and as one scout said (per Dan Hayes), Eloy Jiménez “might be a monster. Wouldn’t surprise me if he ends up better than Moncada.” More importantly, the White Sox continue to stack their prospect pool, and now have the #1, #8, #11, #23, #28, #36, #59, #63, and #68 prospects in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline. The more top prospects you have, the better chance you have of seeing success in the future. This also gives the White Sox a chance to call up a pitcher from the minors to fill Quintana’s spot, so it will be interesting to see who the White Sox decide to let fill his rotation spot on Sunday. Early indications are, however, that it is not a top prospect.
Chicago Cubs: “Much Needed Help Acquired”
The Cubs’ starting rotation has struggled this season: 13th in runs allowed per game, 6th-worst in number of quality starts, 19th in average game score, 23rd in runs allowed, and 30th in first inning runs allowed. While not all of the starters’ stats are awful (such as being 6th in batting average against and 9th in ERA), for a team that is coming off a 103-win season, starting 43-45 isn’t the best way to repeat as division champions. It’s no secret that the Cubs were searching for starting pitching this July – as they were rumored to have asked about Justin Verlander – in hopes of overtaking the Brewers and winning the NL Central. Quintana has been a top-of-the-line starter for several years without recognition; he has the third-highest WAR at 18.1 among AL pitchers since 2013. Plus, the Cubs gain control over Quintana until 2019 (he has a 2020 option), meaning he doesn’t become a rental player like Aroldis Chapman. This gives the rotation some stability through youth over the next few years. You have to wonder if the Brewers’ interest in Quintana really pushed this deal closer to completion.
As far as the Cubs giving up the #5 (or #8, depending on who you read) prospect in baseball, any Cubs fan knew that a major prospect – or even current major league player – would need to be traded to get something of value in return. With Báez, Russell, Almora, Jiménez, Heyward, Happ, Candelario, and Schwarber, the Cubs simply had (and still have) too many good players fighting for too few spots. Just one trade like this removes one name and makes the future a little bit easier to align for the Cubs.
Right now, you can’t really argue one way or another, because both teams win. The White Sox trade their biggest asset and receive an excellent return, and the Cubs fill the biggest hole preventing them from making a run at the NL Central in the second-half (hitting eventually comes around, given the talent). This trade completely makes sense for both sides; the crazy part of it all is the fact that the crosstown rivals are helping each other out.
As a White Sox fan, I’d like to take a chance to thank José Quintana for his time here on the South Side. He never once complained about the lack of run support he often received, and he has truly been fun to watch. He’s someone, just like Sale, who I could never root against or wish ill towards. He has been a model for other players and a fan favorite in his time here. I wish him luck on the North Side of town, and hopefully (or maybe not) we get to face him in a few weeks during the Crosstown Series. But Cubs, please take care of Quintana, because he’s seen too many no-decisions and could really use some support in the form of offense.