In one fell swoop, the Cubs and Sox decimated everything I’ve been saying.
#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
While the Sox have clearly been in sell mode for a while now, it’s long been said that they would never do a deal with the Cubs. But every man has a price — a guaranteed rate, if you will — and that price for lefty starter Jose Quintana included the Cubs’ two most highly-touted prospects.
Dylan Cease and Eloy Jimenez were scratched from yesterday’s starts, leading to quite a bit of speculation as to the Cubs’ intentions. Being the insightful genius that I am, I chalked those moves up to rest and precaution. Surely, I reasoned, the Cubs weren’t going to make a move so splashy that it would require both prospects to pull it off. Boy, was I ever wrong.
The 28-year-old Quintana is under club control through 2020 at a maximum of just under $33 million — ~$3M this year, $8.8M in 2018, two team options of $10.5 ($1M buyouts on each) — is an absolute steal in terms of value at the top of the rotation for what the Cubs hope will be the next three years. This move solidifies the rotation for the second half and aids tremendously in free agency, where they’ll still have plenty of money to land another arm.
That’s the monetary cost. The prospect cost, on the other hand, was very steep. Eloy Jimenez could be a special player in the outfield, but he was also made somewhat more expendable by the emergence of Ian Happ. Jason Heyward’s not going anywhere with that contract and we know how much the Cubs love Kyle Schwarber. If you weren’t already convinced, this should tell you exactly how much the Cubs value Schwarber as a pillar of this team moving forward.
Cease is another big name in the organization, a hard-throwing righty whose relative youth (he’s only 21, almost a full year younger than the low-A average) and strikeout totals (12.9%, four points higher than Midwest League average), have him pegged as a potential difference-maker. But his injury history and slight build (6-2, 190) have many thinking he profiles as a reliever long-term.
You also have to consider the volatility of pitcher development. The chances of having a kid at low-A matriculate all the way to the majors are much lower than locking up a proven starter like Quintana for multiple seasons.
First baseman Matt Rose and second baseman Bryant Flete were putting up solid numbers for the Pelicans but were mainly sweeteners to the deal. Neither figured to factor very heavily in the Cubs’ plans, given that the MLB club is somewhat set in terms of the infield for the foreseeable future.
Milwaukee had previously been viewed as the front-runners (with Houston in the mix) to land Quintana, and that divisional rivalry may have gotten the Cubs to bump their offer a bit. With the Brewers still in the market for an arm as they look to protect their 5.5 game lead in the Central, perhaps we’ll see dueling moves like the ones from nine years ago. That’s when Milwaukee landed CC Sabathia, after which the Cubs dealt for Rich Harden. Fun times.
Wow. For as much access as there is these days, this move really came out of left field. I’m still pretty shocked by it, to be honest. Given the time off from the All-Star break, it’s easy to picture Quintana getting a start when the Cubs open the second half in Baltimore.
It’ll be a little weird not to fawn over Jimenez any longer, and this move significantly depletes the Cubs’ system, but Theo Epstein said they’d deal from depth and he also said they’d win with the position players on the roster.
But you wanna talk about weird? The three Pelicans players now move to the White Sox organization, where they’ll be with the Winston-Salem Dash. Not only are the Dash in the Carolina League, but they’re playing in Myrtle Beach right now. Those players will just be switching clubhouses. Nuts.
More on this trade, particularly Quintana, throughout the day.