The hot stove is lit, children. On Thursday, the Chicago White Sox finally traded starting pitcher Jose Quintana, but his destination won’t be far away – he’s heading to the Chicago Cubs for a package of four prospects, including the highly-touted Eloy Jimenez.
#WhiteSox have acquired OF Eloy Jiménez, RHP Dylan Cease, 1B Matt Rose & INF Bryant Flete from the Cubs in exchange for LHP José Quintana.
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) July 13, 2017
Jimenez and Cease were the Cubs’ top two prospects, per MLB.com. Jimenez was ranked eighth overall in baseball, while Cease checked in at #63. The acquisition of Jimenez now gives the White Sox three of baseball’s top 11 prospects (again, per MLB.com), with Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech (both acquired in the Chris Sale trade) joining Jimenez.
The White Sox didn’t budge on asking for a hefty package of players for Quintana, and they had their demands met by the reigning World Champions. The 28-year old Quintana is controllable through 2020 via a pair of club options, meaning that the Cubs achieved their goal of acquiring a starting pitcher to bolster their rotation that was *not* a rental. Despite his disappointing 4-8 record and 4.48 ERA, Quintana has a history of success, posting four straight seasons of at least 200 innings, 160 strikeouts, and an ERA under 4.00 from 2013-2016.
As mentioned, the price was steep. The 20-year old Jimenez, signed as an amateur out of Cuba in 2013 for a $2.8 million bonus, is hitting .271/.351/.490 in 42 games in high-A this season, following a year where he slashed .329/.369/.532 with 14 homers and eight steals in A-ball.
He also did this shit during the Futures Game last year in San Diego.
The 21-year old Cease was a sixth-round pick by the Cubs in the 2014 MLB Draft, and received a far over-slot bonus of $1.5 million. In 51 2/3 innings in A-ball this season, he’s struck out 74, walked 26, and pitched to a 2.79 ERA in 51 2/3 innings. Yeah, that’ll play.
Matt Rose and Bryant Flete are the two less-heralded members of this trade. The 22-year old Rose was an 11th-round pick by the Cubs in the 2015 MLB Draft, and is hitting .227/.281/.481 with 14 homers in high-A this season. Flete is a 24-year old that was signed as an amateur out of Venezuela, and is hitting .305/.355/.425 with six homers at high-A. Neither Rose nor Flete ranked among the Cubs’ top 30 prospects.
In case you’re curious about whether or not the Cubs and White Sox make deals often, the answer is “no”. This is the first trade between the two Chicago teams in more than a decade.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 13, 2017
The Cubs will slot Quintana into a rotation that has struggled this season, posting a 4.66 ERA on the season (ranking 17th in baseball and eighth in the National League, right ahead of the Phillies). Quintana, Jon Lester, and Jake Arrieta will make for a fearsome trio going into the second half of the year, and if Kyle Hendricks returns healthy and effective, Chicago will only have to worry about patching one spot in their rotation rather than three.
The remaining control left on Quintana’s contract will also help the Cubs deal with the expected departures of Arrieta and John Lackey this offseason. Going into 2018 with Lester, Quintana, and Hendricks as their top three starters would not be a bad thing for the Cubs, though they’d likely need to acquire another starter, especially if Hendricks doesn’t rebound like expected.
At 43-45 and 5.5 games out of the NL Central lead, the Cubs needed to make a move. That’s exactly what they did by acquiring Quintana, and the time for them to make a run at surpassing the Milwaukee Brewers in the division is now. That end of month series between the two teams at Miller Park just took on a little more significance, and it’ll be interesting to see if the Brewers now feel pressured to make a move in response.