Chicago Cubs: Now is the time to dangle Jose Quintana in a trade

Chicago Cubs / Jose Quintana (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
Chicago Cubs / Jose Quintana (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

As another Yankees starter goes down, now is the time for Theo Epstein to send Chicago Cubs hurler Jose Quintana to the Bronx to shed additional payroll.

Trading Kris Bryant and his $18.6 million contract for the upcoming season is not the only way for the Chicago Cubs to get under the $208 million competitive balance tax threshold, believe it or not.

As things currently stand, Theo Epstein needs to cut just under $5 million to get under that mark. One way to do so? Trade Jose Quintana, who, in his final year of team control, is set to earn $10.5 million. Why Quintana? Because I personally believe the Cubs would be fine with some combination of Tyler Chatwood, Alec Mills and Adbert Alzolay rounding out the final two spots in the rotation.

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Why now? Well that’s much more straightforward and less opinion-based. On Thursday, the New York Yankees announced some troubling news on the status of right-hander Luis Severino, who missed most of last season with injuries.

New York is shutting down the 26-year-old hurler, who experienced forearm pain in recent days. After losing James Paxton until at least May, the Yankees may very well be facing a pair of holes in their rotation just as Grapefruit League action gets underway this weekend.

"“It’s hard to say. We are just going to react to it,’’ Brian Cashman told the NY Post. “It could be nothing and it’s a timing issue and it could be something. We don’t have any more information than that other than the time frame that was spelled out already.’’"

Again, I want to be as clear as possible. This doesn’t mean Quintana will A) be shopped or B) not play a key role for the Cubs as they look to return to the postseason this year. That all being said, the front office has operated this entire offseason with a seeming overarching goal: get under the $208 million mark and re-set their luxury tax penalties heading into 2021.

New York has some arms they could look to slot in there, but with the Rays and Red Sox to contend with, it might be a gamble Cashman isn’t willing to take. Quintana, in his final year of team control, wouldn’t alter any of the organization’s long-term plans and could, at least in theory, fill in to start the year and allow Aaron Boone to be a bit more careful with his arms over the course of the season.

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Circling back to the Cubs, this move puts them fairly solidly under the luxury tax threshold while keeping the core group of position players intact. Given the number of arms in camp, I find it hard to believe David Ross couldn’t piece together the back of the rotation and see how things play out. I can’t help but think that one thing rules above all else at Gallagher Way at this moment: getting under that $208 million mark.