On Thursday, the two Chicago baseball teams completed a significant transaction that could alter the course of both franchises. The Cubs received stellar starting pitcher Jose Quintana and parted with four prospects two of whom rank in MLB Pipeline’s Top 100. The deal makes sense for both sides. In Quintana, the Cubs get a much-needed quality starter with a team friendly contract. The White Sox further fortify their farm system ranked #3 by most services before the deal.
Jose Quintana Trade Fills Two Needs
Quintana an Important Pickup for Cubs
Despite being overshadowed by flashy strikeout king Chris Sale for much of his career, Quintana was nearly his equal for much of their time together on the South Side of Chicago. In 2016, Sale was a 4.9 WAR player with a 3.34 ERA in 32 starts and 226 innings pitched. Quintana bested him in both categories with a 5.1 WAR and a 3.20 era in 32 starts and 208 innings pitched. A WAR of 5 or more is considered All-Star caliber. Quintana also eclipsed that level in 2013 and posted respectable numbers in both 2014 and 2015. His age and contract only caused his value to skyrocket. At 28-years-old and signed to reasonable numbers for a top-flight pitcher through 2020. The Cubs got the long-term starter they desperately needed.
Starting Pitching a Primary Need for the Cubs
The Cubs starting pitching has struggled for much of the year and is one of the chief reasons they have underachieved. At two games under .500 and trailing the Brewers by 5.5 games going into the All-Star break, the team’s chances of repeating as World Series Champions is dwindling. With Kyle Hendricks injured, along with John Lackey and Jake Arrieta struggling; adding a quality arm was paramount if the Cubs wanted to repeat. The Milwaukee Brewers were also sniffing around Quintana providing additional motivation for completing the transaction.
Trade also for the Future
From the Cubs standpoint, this trade is as much for the future as it is for the present. John Lackey is pitching like a DFA candidate at 39 years of age. He has given up nearly as many home runs this season as he did all last year. Meanwhile, Jake Arrieta can become a free agent at the end of 2017. Acquiring a young controllable arm was necessary in order to sustain the dynasty that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have set out to build on the North Side.
South Siders Added a Notable Amount of Talent
In exchange for the steady left hander the White Sox added to their already impressive stockpile of young players. Eloy Jimenez, the likely key to the deal from the White Sox perspective is the #8 ranked prospect and #2 within the White Sox organization by MLB Pipeline. He is also considered one of the top power hitting prospects in the minor leagues. The future right fielder is often compared to Marlin’s powerhouse Giancarlo Stanton.
In addition to the promising outfielder, the White Sox also snagged right handed pitcher Dylan Cease. He comes in as the #63 rated prospect, but is expected to catapult much higher after proving he’s recovered from Tommy John surgery. He’s consistently firing 90 plus mph fastballs for the Cubs class A affiliate. His top end speed reaches over 100 mph. He pairs well with other recently acquired flamethrower in the White Sox system, Michael Kopech. Both project as either starters or deliver lock down potential at the back end of the bullpen. The old adage says for every 10 pitching prospects two will become quality major leaguers. The White Sox have diversified their portfolio in the vital 100 mph plus fastball category.
Pair of Class A Prospects
Also included in the deal are slugging first baseman Matt Rose and infielder Bryant Flete, both of whom are performing well at the Class A level. With 14 home runs, Rose delivers the power aspect that the White Sox brass craves. Flete doesn’t display any one overriding skill but has enough talent to have a ceiling as a strong utility player.
It looks like the baseball season just got more interesting on both sides of Chicago. Let’s see if it extends to the fall for the team from the North Side. Meanwhile, the White Sox hope to be filling the seats at Guaranteed Rate Field somewhere around October 2019 and beyond.
24 September 2016: Chicago White Sox Starting pitcher Jose Quintana (62)  composes himself on the mound after loading the bases during the second inning of the Major League Baseball game between the Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field in Cleveland, OH. (Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)