The Sanity of the Jose Quintana Deal

So that happened.

It is so nice to see everyone in town getting along so well. This trade just made so much sense for both sides of town. I just never thought it would happen. Thankfully, the GM on the south side is more interested in building an organization rather than about crosstown silliness.

The Cubs have been looking to acquire a controlled young arm ever since they entered this winning window. I thought that getting one this summer was possible, but most of the names connected to Cubs weren’t the likes of Verlander, Gray, and Samardzija. I also anticipated the price may be too rich and risky to land the Gray types, let alone Jose Quintana.

I figured White Sox GM Rick Hahn would have to literally don a ski mask to deal with the Cubs (See Theo Epstein’s comments on that the ask for Chris Sale started with Kris Bryant). Yet, a good old fashioned baseball trade happened. Color me both tickled and surprised. Theo Epstein seemed pleasantly surprised himself.

I am not overjoyed to see prospects like Eloy Jimenez leave the Cubs organization, but that is the minimum price paid to land a top of the rotation starter under 30 years old with 3 years of control left. Just be thankful this deal didn’t require one of the current young MLB assets.

An evaluator pointed out the other day that Epstein would soon have to make the choice on which currency would be less painful to part with to land arms, money or prospects. For now the answer obviously is prospects. Yet, Quintana’s deal is so financially sweet, it will make any plunge into free agency this winter a little less painful. Not to mention it leaves more money for the likes of Bryant, Javy Baez, and company down the road.

The Cubs could run out a potential front end rotation next year of Jon Lester, Quintana and say an Alex Cobb without further depleting their system. For those who thought Epstein would either stand pat or even sell this summer; they simply underestimated his competitiveness. Especially in a championship window.

Yet, this ultimately is about the big picture. Certainly it fits in the apparent 4 yearish window the Cubs are in until the kiddos get paid. This is much more about that than reacting to an ugly first half. Yet, with Quintana and the return of Kyle Hendricks looming, this just maybe the boost this club needed for a mentally refreshed second half run at the division.

I’ve been told that the thought of acquiring pitching can make Epstein a little bit anxious. Bats are much more predictable and reliable for this outfit thus far. Yet, when it comes to Quintana, established and reliable are two words that apply. Quintana, is a safer gamble than most. Lefties who have low maintenance deliveries seem to appeal to the Cubs front office a lot like their biggest gamble so far in Lester.

The Cubs kept their nucleus in tact, and still added to it. Meanwhile, the White Sox are somewhat following Epstein and Hoyer’s blueprint they laid out for them. All it took was a text message from another smart baseball guy in town.


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  • I'm all for the trade, but I understand the concern. Feelings change depending on the valuation of the parties involved. Some think the Cubs got a controlled, TOR starter for two A-ball prospects that may or not pan out. Others think they mortgaged the team's future for a #3-4 SP. Most are somewhere in between, understanding the necessity to give some talent to remain competitive during the open window.

  • Win Win! 2019 Chicago WS?

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I was gonna say 2020 Chicago world series. Man that would be fun.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    Especially if the Cubs won.

  • I'm all onboard with the trade. I am curious if Theo and team can restock the farm system with blue-chip talent without relying on top draft choices. How do the Dodgers do it?

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    Good drafting and good scouting in the IFA market.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    They were able to by using the rules under the old CBA. The new rules make it much more difficult to acquire blue chip prospects, especially for good teams in a large market, which is why teams like NYY & LAD are unwilling to deal their top prospects. IFA is hard capped & tiered with smaller bonuses for large market teams, & loss of bonuses for going over luxury tax. There is no more big spending on several top prospects & suffering penalties. Competitive balance picks will also fall after the 2nd round, & possibly after 4th of over tax. Drafting at the back of the draft doesn't leave many top prospects so they will need to find those diamonds in the rough to find players that are overlooked for various reasons.

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    In reply to Cubswin09:

    As Michael points out "Good drafting and good scouting in the IFA market" but also good development. We have all seen guys whose ceilings go up (Hendricks, Contreras) when given good coaching and development. Some of it is seeing talent but some of it is unlocking talent no one saw initially.

  • All good obvious review and that all might be right. Quintana is a top #2-3 level starter and compliments Hendricks and potentially pushes a fading, enigmatic, touchy Arrieta to the 4 and Lackey or Montgomery to the #5-6, giving the starters up line more rest.

  • I still haven't decided on the subject of Sanity. Leaning towards being against it all together. Love the trade though!

  • We should not underestimate what this deal does for the psyche of the players. I agree with Tom that this should be a big boost "for a mentally refreshed second half run at the division." They boys have to fired up to charge into the 2nd half.

  • And, BTW, the comments section yesterday was a thing of beauty and showed once again why the Den is THE place for us diehards. So many great insights. And respectful debates. Thanks to all of you.

  • In reply to TTP:

    Agreed. I jumped onto a Facebook discussion of the trade and there were all kinds of crazy going on. One guy even suggested that he didn't care if the trade helped us - He was against it because it might help the White Sox in the future. Had to remind him that our real rivals were the Cardinals before departing and returning to view the much more rational comments here.

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    So he hates the White Sox more than he likes the Cubs. What a commentary on why fans across America HATE Cubs fans.

  • With Heyward locked in for at least two years (and probably more), the continued faith the Cubs have in Kyle Schwarber, and the likelyhood that they will try hard for Harper after 2018, the club believes corner outfield is set for the foreseeable future. But what the club didn't know, was who is going to fill the bottom three slots in the rotation next spring.

  • And, also, I should say that it is at times like these that I really, really miss hearing from our great leader John.

    John, I hope you are progressing well and you come back to us soon, my friend.

    Best wishes,


  • In reply to TTP:

    Well spoken, sir, on all three posts.

  • In reply to TTP:

    Agreed on John, Ted. He was the first person I thought of yesterday.

  • Reported that Cubs still looking at Sonny Gray. What would that take?

  • In reply to Troop85:

    I'm going to jump on my soapbox again. I just have a gut feeling that the source for that leak is Hoyer or Theo, and that it's not true. Instead, they are doing it to raise the prospect cost for the Brewers. The deals that the Cubs pull off just don't leak. But hey, I hope I a wrong! If true, I think it takes Schwarber.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    Do you really think it would take the Shwarbnado to get Gray?
    He was actually pretty terrible last year, and has been pretty average this year; after being stellar his first 3 years.......

  • In reply to Treebeard:

    I obviously don't know. But yes, I do think so. Or Baez. Or Russell. I just think Schwarber is more likely than those two. I actually think it would take Schwarber and Candelario and two more lower prospects, similar to the deal that was just done. The Cubs don't have another top 10 prospect to trade. But like I said, I don't think this is real. And Schwarber, Baez, Russell are not going to be traded.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    If Happ continues to progress, his ability to hit from both sides and his defensive versatility (being around average at multiple positions) could well make him more useful to the Cubs than Schwarber, despite Kyle's LH power.

    I'll always appreciate what Schwarber did in Cleveland, I just think he's limited defensively on his best days. And whether or not his hitting is back remains to be seen.

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    In reply to MN Exile:

    For me if Schwarber can play close to average defense in LF, have an OPS of .790-.850 (or better) and serve as Maddon's "3rd string catcher" I will like to have him around. He fills a couple important roles for this team. He is just struggling this year. In fact, DESPITE his troubles this year he is still a positive WAR player.

  • In reply to Treebeard:

    Schwarber has been far from stellar this year. He was and always will be one of the WS hero and a post-season legend. His hit potential is out of this world, but his defense is not great, and that's putting it nicely. Gray has injury concerns and hasn't been out of this world this year, but he's still be a huge upgrade over Lackey, Butler and probably Arrieta.

    In Gray trade talks, it starts with at least Schwarber, and would take much more than that. I don't see it happening, but never say never.

  • In reply to Mom2futurecubs:

    Don't​ you think Schwarber's value would actually be higher in the AL though? He doesn't exactly have to play defense as the DH.......

  • In reply to Mom2futurecubs:

    Agreed. Problem with Schwarber is that if (and this is a big 'if') he can make Rizzo-like adjustments early in his career.. then we have the next Big Papi. If he stays the same or only slightly improves, we have the next Adam Dunn. That's a large floor to ceiling projection. The problem with trading him now, at his low value point, is that the Cubs will have to throw in more pieces to make a trade for Gray.

  • In reply to Mom2futurecubs:

    I don't think it would take much more than Scwarber to get Gray. I look back at the Rizzo/Casnner trade. Both Schwarber and Gray today have shown more than Rizzo/Cashner back when the trade took place. Cashner at the time was more of a sure thing than Rizzo and the Cubs offered Cashner up to the Padres. Won't a similar minded team see Schwarber's ability/potential/past heroics and reason he's worth the risk to trade a young quality control pitcher like a Gray? Isn't this what the Cubs did and at the time Rizzo had proven nothing? When I think about it the Cubs took a decent size risk and showed guts to trade for the unproven Rizzo knowing they were giving up a young and very talented pitcher in Cashner.

  • In reply to David23:

    I agree. Schwarber's value should actually be higher in the AL. He doesn't exactly have to play defense as the DH.......

  • In reply to Treebeard:

    The only other scenario I can conjure might be Almora, Candelario, and a young arm. Even that might not be enough.

    Just read that Pineda has a partial UCL tear. Maybe the Yanks join the Brewers, Dodgers, and Cubs in the Sonny Gray bidding...

  • In reply to LAX2ORD:

    I don't see them trading for another starter this year. I think they are trying to Jack up the price for the brewers.

    With Lester Hendricks arrieta Quintana lackey and backups like Montgomery butler and anderson. I dont see a trade coming.

    I know people are worried about lackey. I am not he will be solid second half. That 5 has potential to be killer and now with Montgomery to the bullpen that makes it more of a strength.

    We need to start scoring in the first instead of being scored upon in the first. I think zobrist leading off has the patience to be a decent leadoff hitter. If bryzzo gets going and schwarber turns it around a little lookout.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    I'm less enthused about Lackey in the second half. This season has been so weird with the 'juiced' ball benefitting overachieving teams like Milwaukee. I just don't want a fly ball pitcher like Lackey out there every 5 starts.

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    In reply to bleachercreature:

    I could see the Cubs pulling off a trade similar to the Vogelbach-for-Montgomery trade (and likely a guy with "options"). Right now I think 3 of our "depth" pieces in Iowa are on the DL so a replacement for those guys and a guy to go into next season as a "depth" piece.

  • In reply to LAX2ORD:

    I would be on board with that trade, would hate to lose Almora; but hey, we've already traded Torres and Jimenez.......

  • In reply to LAX2ORD:

    What about an outside the box deal where it's Arrieta, Candelario, Zagunis, & Hatch for Gray & Doolittle. They can then flip Arrieta for more prospects. There wouldn't really be a spot for Jake anyway with Lester, Quintana, Gray, Hendricks, Lackey/Anderson/Butler. The Cubs could also pay a portion of Arrieta's salary. This could be an interesting idea to cut down on the prospect cost

  • In reply to Treebeard:

    Gray has a 3.58 FIP and a 3.41 xFIP, characterizing his season as mediocre isn't really right. I can't imagine they'd take anything less than Schwarber or Russell.

  • In reply to TC154:

    I'd be on board w/Russell in any trade that brings back a ToR plus other(s) in a package. Prefer to keep Schwarber for post season because I tend to believe he'll figure out his below Mendoza line in-season struggles... eventually.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    I tend to agree with you on all points.

  • This is - indeed - a trade that makes sense for both teams, and that helps both teams in the next few years.

    Cubs gain stability in their SP for the next couple of years at the cost of a few high quality prospects that were not going to help much within the current competitive window.

    Sox continue to do something similar to what the Cubs did a few years back in selling and established asset that was not going to help the Sox much to build a playoff earning team, but that nets them some potential talent to work with in a few years when they do have a chance again.

    Win - Win.

    It'll probably smart a bit to see Cease and/or Jiminez playing for the other Chicago team a few years down the line - but if it gets the Cubs into the playoffs a couple more times,.... it'll have been worth it.

  • I think one thing everyone is overlooking is the pressure on the kids to succeed on offense when the Cubs are behind. Last year they were always scoring early and our starters were blanking our opponents early. This year they fall behind most of the time and the kids start to press.

    Having another legit #2 should alleviate those early deficits somewhat.

  • In reply to JohnCHI:

    I hope you are singing the truth man, but even with Lester lately we are down after a half inning....One starter can help, but not sure he can get all the other ones pulled up out of that first inning rut.

  • In reply to JohnCHI:

    If there is one stark difference to this year from last year it is this point. People talk about lacking a leadoff hitter but the leadoff hitter technically only leads off for sure once a game. The lack of one this year has had an impact but last year, and to your point, I feel the lineup produced at a better clip in terms of RISP because their pitching wasn't putting them in a hole right off the bat. Last year, they were 47-8 if they led at the start of the 3rd inning and 19-24 if they trailed. This year, they are 22-7 if they lead at the start of the 3rd, 12-23 if they trail. This year, they have given up almost double the amount of runs on average in the 1st inning than they have on average over innings 2-8 (.91 vs .456). In 162 games last year, they only trailed at the start of the 3rd inning 43 times or 26.5%. This year, through 88 games, they have trailed 35 times or 39.8%. This is a 50.2% increase over last year's rate which is why it appears that our hitters seem to be squeezing the sawdust out of the bats when there is a chance to score runs. Quintana potentially solves some of the problem, not all of it. The bulk of the improvement has to come from the other SPs - Lester, Arrieta, Lackey and hopefully a return to form from Hendricks.

  • I keep reading and hearing over and over that Schwarber is a great hitter. What has he done, in a professional setting, outside of being last year's potential WS MVP to deserve such praise. Everyone sets aside the fact that he is a career .200 hitter and focuses only on his potential, which is unproven of course. Don't get me wrong, I HONESTLY love this kid. He just screams "Chicago" to me, but at the same time we need to set emotions aside. I said early in the year that I didn't see him hitting above .250 or .260 and I was chastised by some. Now look. Then when you add his lack of speed and poor defensive play, I can't see why Theo and Jed would be so stubborn about turning this asset into a true TOR starting pitcher. I would have rather traded Schwarber or Russell for Quintana than Jimenez. That's not even my point, my point is I am concerned that the FO, as amazing as they have been, are cutting off their own noses to spite their faces by refusing to trade this kid.

  • What type of contract does Gray have? If it's 3-4 years trade Schwab and Candy.that would give us a rotation of Lester,Hendricks Q,Gray and Monty/ Butler with the young kids in the lineup we're set for a 5 year run

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    In reply to Troop85:

    He has a 2 years (2018-2019) of arbitration and then hits FA I believe.

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    It would take Schwarber & Candelario, just to get Gray. Now if you threw in Almora, you'd probably get K Davis also.

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    In reply to Wrigley0923:

    Or is K Davis bad at D? I haven't checked

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    I think they're going to see where there at before the deadline, and maybe get Avila as a backup

  • Gray has two arbitration years, then FA in 2020. So 2.5 seasons on the relative cheap if we include this year.

    I think it costs Schwarber and another piece. Either that, or as others have noted, perhaps this is the FO only trying to drive up prices during the next couple weeks.

  • Haven't seen it on here, but ESPN shows our new pitcher is slated for starting Sunday after Jake throws Saturday. Can't see them having JQ and Lester back to back so thinking Eddy in between?

  • That also puts JQ on schedule to pitch the Saturday game against the Cards and the Thursday game against the White sox but means he won't throw against the Brewers? Might still be some tinering with the day off next Thursday.

  • Can someone explain the rationale to NOT start one of our top 3 starters coming out of the break? I can see if they had a 5-6 game lead starting the 2nd half, but they are back 5.5 games and 1-2 bad weeks of being out of the race and yet they are starting Montgomery? Hmmmmmmmmmmm something doesn't seem right with this.

  • In reply to INSaluki:

    How dare you question Maddon. I was wondering the same thing myself.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    They're auditioning Monty & Jake for the next big trade(s)...

  • In reply to INSaluki:

    Arrieta and Lester pitched the last two games before the break. I'm OK with both getting another day or two of rest before starting the 2nd half. Lester has had a couple of bad starts in a row, and Jake's body is still possessed by a space alien with a high ERA on his home planet in Galaxy FIP417.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Nice... I chuckled under my breath. :o)

  • In reply to INSaluki:

    Whoever pitches tonight gets the final game in ATL, setting up Jake, Q, and Lester for the Cards. Unless you are sure that Kyle and Lackey are 100% good-to-go, it makes sense to piggyback one of them with MiMo in Atlanta and test the other one against the Sox. Need your best against Cards, and against Brewers the following weekend.

  • I love the trade, I've been traveling and busy so I haven't posted a ton on it here but I think Tom hits the high notes on why this makes sense for both teams. There is something though that I'm not sure I understand, why do people call Quintana a 2/3 type? He profiles as more or less the same pitcher as Jon Lester who we call our ace, even though he's struggled this year. Their fWAR over the last 3 plus years is nearly identical with Quintana having the edge. Now, all that said I would prefer a fireballing RHP at the top of my rotation that could put up a FIP of 2 consistently but Theo doesn't. He likes consistency and low risk of injury and if his guy is more of a 3.0-3.5 FIP then so be it. Just take a look at who has led his rotations over the years. So by Theo's standards Quintana is a 1/2 type as is Lester. Where is the difference?

  • Tom,
    Nice piece! Thank you for read. I'd make one change. Forget Alex Cobb. With all the potential money coming off the books (Arietta, Lackey and Montero together made ~$42M), they should sign Yu Darvish.

  • In reply to hoopscubs:

    Getting Darvish would be YUuuge...

  • In reply to hoopscubs:

    Sure, I am just leery of his tag and injury history. Love the pitcher.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    They'd have to pay to keep Jake anyway & they're out of top 10 ML prospects to trade away... It's just money. Higher revenues. Window. Go for it.

  • The first couple of sentences could be flipped the other way. Good thing GM on the north side was willing to give up baseballs best prospect to the Sox instead of the silliness.

    I just smdont see Q as a top of a line starter he is a nice 3. I don't think this solves are biggest issue. Just seems like a huge price to pay for a number 3 type. And if we have to move him to the top end of rotation cause the rest suck then that isn't a true TOR guy, it is by default.

  • Again, its in the eye of the beholder. Q is def at least a 2/3 type. Those cost $$$. Q is cheap, so you pay with prospects instead.

  • IMO this trade signals the next phase of the championship window. The last of the Top-tier prospects have made their way to the ML club (Happ). Now comes the impact Veteran phase.

    The Cubs have 4 more years of cheap star power before having to make extremely tough decisions on who stays and who goes. This Winter Arrieta is gone, leaving a rotation of Lester, Hendricks, Quintana and scraps.

    This Winter, I would go all in on Harper and Darvish or Atoni. I move Hayward to CF, Harper in RF and Happ in OF. The playoff rotation with those 4 would be ridiculous.

  • In reply to mcoley32:

    Harper is not a free agent until after the 2018 season.

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