Cubs won’t be handing out any qualifying offers this winter

Injuries cost Cubs pitcher Jose Quintana a shot at a qualifying offer this winter. Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports
Injuries cost Cubs pitcher Jose Quintana a shot at a qualifying offer this winter. Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports /

The Cubs won’t extend qualifying offers to Jose Quintana and Tyler Chatwood.

This week, we learned qualifying offers this offseason will come with an $18.9 million price tag. That alone would likely stop the Chicago Cubs from offering one to either Jose Quintana or Tyler Chatwood – let alone the uncertainty that’s very much a part of the game for owners across the league right now.

Quintana, the key piece in the infamous crosstown deal that sent Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease to the South Side, made just four appearances this year after suffering a pair of injuries. He never really factored into the picture for Chicago this year, striking out 12 in 10 innings of work.

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That’s not to say he couldn’t return to the Cubs in free agency, though. It’s not exactly an ideal time to be sailing those waters for players and Theo Epstein might be able to bring him back on some pretty team-friendly terms. This winter’s free agent class boasts plenty of those middle-to-back-of-the-rotation names, though, so we’ll see if the front office looks elsewhere.

In his Cubs career, Quintana worked to a 3.93 FIP in 439 2/3 innings. He came up big against teams like the Brewers on multiple occasions, but fans’ incorrect perception about just what the team was getting when it acquired him midseason back in 2017 has marred his resume quite a bit.

When you give up two of your top prospects in a deal, you expect an ace in return. The Cubs, instead, got a very durable guy who would take the ball every five days and, by and large, keep you in the ballgame and give you a chance to win. That’s how he’ll be remembered looking back if this is, indeed, the end of the line.

Early this year it looked like, at long last, Chatwood was taking that long-awaited next step in his development. He dominated in his first couple of starts before the wheels fell off in a big way. When the dust settled, he made just five starts spanning 18 2/3 innings, and managed a disappointing 5.30 ERA and 1.661 WHIP – although his 3.35 FIP and 12.1 strikeouts per nine offer a more optimistic take on his performance.

Epstein bet on Chatwood’s spin rate and success away from Coors Field when signing him to a three-year, $39 million deal. That didn’t play out the way the Cubs had hoped, though – and there’s absolutely no chance they even have a conversation about bringing him back at a rate anywhere near that $18.9 million mark.

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The emergence of Alec Mills and Adbert Alzolay help clarify the team’s rotation picture a bit heading into 2021. Yu Darvish and Kyle Hendricks are both set to return, as well, so really they’re just looking for one more arm to slot into the staff. Unless it’s on the cheap, it’s hard to imagine Chatwood or Quintana being the answer this offseason.