On Thursday, the Chicago White Sox finally traded starting pitcher Jose Quintana, but his destination won't be far away - he's heading to the Chicago Cubs for a package of four prospects, including the highly-touted Eloy Jimenez. He won nine games in 2013, 2014 and 2015 before his first double-digit win campaign in 2016.
As an exec from another team said, "Quintana is a solid starter, but some of his value is in him having a very affordable contract (for the next three seasons)".
In the summer of 2015, a Cubs executive scoffed at the idea of the White Sox trading Jeff Samardzija back to the North Side, even though he would only be a rental player for a team lurking in the wild-card race. The top four White Sox prospects on FanGraphs' organizational rankings - Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, and Reynaldo Lopez - were all part of Chicago's trade return, and Moncada ranked no. 1 in all of baseball. Flete is a 24-year old that was signed as an amateur out of Venezuela, and is hitting.305/.355/.425 with six homers at high-A.
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The Cubs' former top-ranked prospect, Jimenez joins a host of top talent in the Sox minor league system.
This season, the craft lefty has a 4-8 record and a 4.49 ERA. He did the same thing previous year in going and getting Aroldis Chapman when it became clear that the Cubs needed an upgrade at closer.
The problem for Cashman is that without significant help for both the starting rotation and the bullpen, the Yankees probably don't have enough pitching to catch the Red Sox. The latter seemed more the case as Quintana finally righted the ship come June and over his last seven starts, never allowed more than three runs in a game with just one hiccup - three runs allowed in just 4.1 innings in hitter-friendly Cincinnati. They did it because they need pitching now, with John Lackey and Kyle Hendricks on the disabled list, and will need pitching in the near future, with Lester and Lackey aging and Arrieta headed for free agency.
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It's possible to envision a scenario where Quintana pitches his best down the stretch, and an unexpected event or injury creates a need for a team with greater prospect wealth.
The White Sox (38-49) haven't made the playoffs since 2008. Not only was he a consensus top-15 prospect, but no other Cub ranked in the top 50 on the FanGraphs, ESPN, Baseball America, or Baseball Prospectus offseason lists. They traded Quintana to the Chicago Cubs. Now, Hahn likely put out calls to other teams like the Houston Astros before pulling a deal with the Cubs, but it's still relatively early for big moves.
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