Chicago Cubs: Landing Quintana dramatically changes team’s second-half course

CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 27: Starting pitcher Jose Quintana
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 27: Starting pitcher Jose Quintana /

The Chicago Cubs landed Jose Quintana in a blockbuster cross-town trade that may have just sealed the fate of the NL Central.

It’s shocking that the Chicago White Sox would agree to send their best pitcher to their crosstown rival in the Chicago Cubs. But, frankly, this deal makes too much sense for both teams.

The North Siders were desperate to add pitching before the trade deadline, and Quintana has been one of the most consistent performers since entering the league in 2012. The White Sox have been floundering this year and are in the midst of a lengthy rebuilding process.

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The Cubs gave up their top pitching prospect, Dylan Cease, and top outfield prospect, Eloy Jimenez, in the deal. Minor league infielders Matt Rose and Bryan Flete were also included in the package.

Seem familiar?

To some Cubs fans, this trade may seem reminiscent of the one which brought Aroldis Chapman to the club last season. You may remember, Chicago shipped off their then-top prospect, Gleyber Torres, and three other players.

However, there is a much larger play at stake in the Quintana trade than the one for Chapman.

The 28-year-old lefty is under contract until 2020, with team options in 2019 and 2020. He is making $7 million this season, and is due $8.85 million next year. As Buster Olney pointed out in his article for ESPN Insiders, “[Quintana’s] a high-end pitcher with an affordable contract and virtually no risk.”

As we all remember, the Chapman deal was essentially a rental. Chicago had no plans on spending $80+ million on a guy who complains about how often he’s used, and only accounts for six outs per game maximum.

First step of a rotation rebuild?

Landing Quintana could be the first move towards a rotation rebuild for the Cubs. Veterans like John Lackey and Jake Arrieta haven’t performed to their caliber this season. Age is definitely a factor in the Cubs starting corps, and adding Quintana is a step in the other direction.

This season, the craft lefty has a 4-8 record and a 4.49 ERA. But don’t let the numbers discourage you. Quintana will become only the third Cubs pitcher with over 100 innings this year, and his 109 strikeouts is second only to Jon Lester’s 110.

Quintana will also be the second-youngest starter in the corps behind Kyle Hendricks. He is a young asset and gives the club a controllable option for the foreseeable future.

Next: Cubs all-in for pitching at deadline is risky

Many analysts see Lackey and Arrieta walking out the clubhouse doors to bigger and better things after this season. With the addition of Quintana to the rotation, that possibility is now far more likely.