Posted on July 13, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
The first major deal of the summer trade season has been completed, and it involves one of the most sought-after players on the market. The Chicago Cubs have agreed to a deal with their Windy City brothers to acquire left-handed ace Jose Quintana. In exchange, the White Sox will receive four prospects: outfielder Eloy Jimenez, pitcher Dylan Cease, first baseman Matt Rose, and infielder Bryant Flete.
The two Chicago clubs have not completed a trade with one another in more than a decade. However, this one has a chance to pay off for both sides. The Cubs are hoping Quintana will help them to capitalize on an opportunity to compete for world championships in the immediate future. Meanwhile, adding more young talent to their farm system will help the White Sox as they rebuild.
“It is always extremely difficult to trade a person and player like Jose Quintana,” White Sox GM Rich Hahn said in a statement. “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.”
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As expected, the price to acquire Quintana was quite high. Jimenez and Cease were rated by MLB.com as the top prospects in the Cubs farm system. Jimenez is currently ranked as the no. 8 prospect in all of baseball, while Cease is no. 63. Neither Rose or Flete are among the Cubs top 30 prospects, according to MLB.com.
Jimenez has spent the entire season in advanced-A ball, so he may be a couple years away from the big leagues. However, he has the tools to hit for both average and power in the big leagues. Defensively, he profiles as a corner outfielder who has plus arm strength. On the season, Jimenez is hitting .271 with an OPS of .841.
Cease is also a couple years away from the majors. He’s currently pitching in A-ball but is having a strong season. In 13 starts, Cease is 1-2 with a 2.79 ERA and 74 strikeouts in 51.2 innings. He possesses a plus fastball that regularly sits in the upper 90s with great sink. He also has an impressive curveball and a changeup that continues to improve. If he can find consistency with all three pitches, Cease has a high ceiling and could be a frontline starter in the majors.
Rose and Flete are rather unheralded prospects. However, both Jimenez and Cease and great additions to an already strong White Sox farm system. With the additions of Jimenez and Cease, the White Sox now have nine of the top 75 prospects in baseball, according to MLB.com.
In Quintana, the Cubs are getting an asset for both this season and the future. Quintana is not having his best season, posting a 4.49 ERA in 18 starts. But he’s been one of the most consistent starters in baseball during his time with the White Sox. He’s made at least 32 starts in each of the past four seasons, with an ERA no higher than 3.51 in each season. He’s also under contract at an affordable rate through the 2020 season.
The Cubs currently have a multitude of issues with their starting rotation. Kyle Hendricks, John Lackey, and Brett Anderson are all on the DL. Meanwhile, Lackey, Hendricks, Jon Lester, and Jake Arrieta have all underperformed this year. The Cubs may also lose Lackey and Arrieta in free agency this winter. Quintana not only helps to reinforce their rotation for the second half of this year, but his presence protects against losing Arrieta and Lackey for next season.
The Cubs also enter the second half trailing the Milwaukee Brewers by 5.5 games in the NL Central. The hope is that Quintana can bounce back from an up and down first half and help jumpstart the Cubs during the second half. Even if the Cubs don’t come back to win the division this year, Quintana is still poised to lead their rotation for at least three more years.