Jose Quintana is heading across town as the Cubs and White Sox agreed to a five-player trade.
Quintana is under team control until 2020 at a team-friendly
contract that includes $8.85 million in 2018, and team options in
2019 ($10.5 million) and 2020 ($11.5 million).
In return for Quintana, a steady frontline starter who should bring
consistency to a shaky Cubs’ rotation, the White Sox landed
outfielder Eloy Jimenez, the No. 5 prospect in baseball according
to Baseball America’s midseason rankings, right-handed pitcher
Dylan Cease, first baseman Matt Rose and infielder Bryant Flete.
“The reality is, this is for the long haul,” Cubs president Theo
Epstein said Thursday. “This deal gives a chance to step back and
survey the rest of the market. A lot will depend on how we play.”
The Cubs reportedly kicked the tires on multiple starters including
Detroit Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander and Oakland Athletics
right-hander Sonny Gray.
Epstein said he called the White Sox when left-hander Chris Sale
was on the market over the winter, but was told the trade cost
would have included third baseman Kris Bryant. The Cubs continued
following Quintana, even after his earned-run average went over
5.00 in a difficult April and May.
The Cubs spent extra time and attention scouting Quintana to make
certain his early season struggles weren’t a sign of a physical
breakdown or long-term flaw, per Epstein.
The deal between Chicago teams is the 15th in the teams history and
first since 2006, when the White Sox sent left-handed reliever Neal
Cotts to the North Side.
Quintana, 28, is 4-8 with a 4.49 ERA and 109 strikeouts in 18
starts this season, his sixth with the White Sox. General manager
Rick Hahn considered offers for Quintana last season at the trade
deadline and again during the offseason, when Chicago moved Sale to
the Boston Red Sox and traded outfielder Adam Eaton to the
Washington Nationals in deals that restocked a depleted farm system.
“It is always extremely difficult to trade a person and player like
Jose Quintana,” Hahn said, “but difficult as it was, this deal
moves us closer to our goal of building a team capable of
contending for multiple championships over an extended period of
time. Jose, our scouts and coaches throughout the organization
deserve a tremendous amount of credit for his development from a
minor-league free agent signee to one of the most sought-after
talents in the game.”
Quintana is among the American League leaders in games started
(tied for fifth) and strikeouts (tied for eighth). Quintana has
gone 50-54 with a 3.51 ERA and 890 strikeouts in 172 career games
(169 starts) after being signed as a minor-league free agent on
Nov. 11, 2011.
“In Eloy, we are acquiring a player who, similar to (Yoan) Moncada,
is viewed as one of the top prospects in baseball today with the
potential for major impact in the not too distant future,” Hahn
said. “Dylan brings us an impressive young pitcher who is ranked
among the top pitching prospects in the game.”
Epstein said the trade would not have happened without the Cubs
including Jimenez and Cease.
Closer David Robertson is also expected to be moved before the
trade deadline as the White Sox look to unload salary and continue
stocking a suddenly potent farm system.
Landing Quintana affords the Cubs leverage in the offseason should
right-hander Jake Arrieta opt to seek greener pastures as a free
agent. Arrieta turns 32 in March.
With the addition of Jimenez (No. 8) and Cease (63), the White Sox
now possess a majors high-tying nine of the Top 100 prospects in
baseball, according to MLB.com. The former top two prospects in the
Cubs organization join infielder Moncada (1), right-hander Michael
Kopech (11), outfielder Luis Robert (23), right-handers Lucas
Giolito (28), Reynaldo Lopez (36) and Carson Fulmer (59) and
catcher Zack Collins (68) on the MLB.com Top 100 list.
Jimenez, 20, is batting .271 (42-for-155) with six doubles, eight
home runs and 32 RBIs in 42 games with Single-A Myrtle Beach this
season. He originally signed with the Cubs as an undrafted free
agent in 2013.
Cease, 21, is 1-2 with a 2.79 ERA (16 ER/51.2 IP) in 13 starts with
Single-A South Bend this season. He was originally selected by the
Cubs in the sixth round of the 2014 draft.
Rose, 22, is batting .227 (53-for-233) with 15 doubles, 14 home
runs and 38 RBIs in 65 games with Myrtle Beach this season. He was
originally selected by the Cubs in the 11th round of the 2015 draft.
Flete, 24, is batting .305 (84-for-275) with 15 doubles, six home
runs and 37 RBIs in 70 games with Myrtle Beach this season. He was
originally signed by the Cubs as a non-drafted free agent in 2012.