It has just been announced that White Sox ace Jose Quintana has been traded to the Cubs for a massive return. The Sox will receive prospects Eloy Jiménez (OF), Dylan Cease (RHP), Matt Rose (1B) & Bryant Flete (INF). Jimenez and Cease are ranked as the Cubs #1 and #2 prospects, respectively. This is a huge haul; much bigger than many expected. It is also a shock that the Sox would trade an ace-caliber pitcher to their crosstown rivals, especially after reports over the last several years have come out that the Sox were hesitant to help the Cubs in any way. However, the factor that may be different here is that the Sox are arguably not really helping the Cubs, but instead just decimated their farm system in return for an aging pitcher in the midst of a down year.
One of the most interesting things about this trade is that the Cubs have very likely significantly shortened their long-term championship window in order to stay afloat this year and compete the next few. For the longest time it looked like the Cubs were destined to be a long-term dynasty, but trading away your top two prospects for a 28-year-old pitcher significantly changes things. Also, I am not sure at this point how much a pitcher that is struggling this year, sporting a 4.49 ERA, is supposed to save a struggling pitching staff.
Trading Quintana was expected, but is sad nonetheless. Quintana has been a quiet, consistent superstar for the Sox since coming up in 2012. After his shortened rookie season, he has never ended a season with an ERA above 3.51 and never thrown less than 200 innings. These are incredible, ace-type numbers, but Quintana does not get superstar recognition because of his reserved demeanor, non-overpowering stuff, and just-short-of-spectacular numbers (playing for the Sox has not helped much either).
The prospects that the Sox received should ease the pain of trading Quintana, however. Jimenez, the Cubs #1 prospect, has incredible power and has been compared to Giancarlo Stanton. In case you need visual evidence of his power:
Cease has an elite fastball/curveball combination that will have him on the fast track to the front of the Sox rotation. Cease and flamethrower Michael Kopech as a 1-2 punch, with Carlos Rodon, Reynaldo Lopez, and Lucas Giolito on the back end? That’s a scary-good rotation. Rose and Flete are question marks at this point, but are just added value to top prospects Jimenez and Cease. Fans should be thrilled with this return. Further, this trade confirms that the Sox are in full rebuild mode in case anyone was doubting it.
I hope that this deal elevates Quintana to a higher level of popularity. I hope that he finally gets the recognition of his success that he deserves. Quintana is yet another player that gave everything he had for the White Sox organization over the past several years, and deserved better than what he received. Like Chris Sale and Adam Eaton before him, Sox fans should be happy to see Quintana go. After all that he had to deal with over the past six years, he deserves to pitch for a winning competitive team and be a part of a pennant race. Best of luck to you, Jose. It is no secret that I am not a huge fan of the Cubs, but even I have to admit that a Red Sox vs. Cubs World Series with a Sale vs. Quintana game one matchup (with a Red Sox victory of course) would be pretty sweet.