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DENVER, CO - JULY 08: Starting pitcher Jose Quintana #62 throws in the first inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on July 8, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Cubs Acquire Jose Quintana In Blockbuster Trade With White Sox

The Chicago Cubs improved their pitching rotation on Thursday by acquiring left-hander Jose Quintana from the crosstown White Sox in a major deal.

Cubs Jose Quintana Trade


As part of the swap, the Cubs yielded two top prospects — outfielder Eloy Jimenez and pitcher Dylan Cease — in addition to two other Minor Leaguers.

Cubs president Theo Epstein insisted the trade was not completed because of the team’s lackluster first half of the season, which has seen the defending World Series champions fall 5 1/2 games behind Milwaukee in the National League Central.

“We’re in the early stages of what we hope is a long run of a group of guys who we believe in,” Epstein said of the core of talented young position players on the Cubs, such as Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Addison Russell. “This group has won one World Series. Our goal is to win more. We needed to add starting pitching to make that happen.”

The team was able to complete the deal without making any changes to its 25-man roster, which Epstein said the Cubs were planning to leave unaltered.

“The reality is this was a deal we were looking at over the long haul,” Epstein said of Quintana. “He’s just about a perfect fit for us.”

Quintana is one of just six pitchers who have played at least 200 innings each of the last four seasons. He has a career 3.51 ERA, all achieved in the American League.

The 28-year-old Colombian struggled this season, however, posting a 5.60 ERA through the end of May, though the Cubs say they’re not worried.

“He may have had a rough time coming off the WBC [World Baseball Classic], when he nearly threw a no-hitter for five innings,” said a scout for another team. “He was stretched out too early and that’s always taxing. He’s been good. He’ll be fine.”

Some may argue that the Cubs gave up two much for Quintana, as they yielded two of their top prospects: Jimenez, who are No.2 and No. 8 in the league’s top prospect list, according to MLB pipeline. Jimenez also ranks fifth on the prospect rankings of ESPN.com’s Keith Law, while Cease was one of the best pitchers in the minors.

“The deal had zero percent chance of happening without Cease in it,” Epstein said. “There was no way to make this deal happen without those guys.”

Cease had a 2.79 ERA in 51 2/3 innings over 13 starts for Class A South Bend. Meanwhile, Jimenez was hitting .271 with eight home runs and 32 RBIs in 42 games for Class A Myrtle Beach.

Per MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi, three other teams were interested in Quintana: the New York Yankees, the Milwaukee Brewers and the Houston Astros. Morosi also reported that the Cubs had recently contacted the Detroit Tigers to express interest in Justin Verlander, although talks for that trade fell through.

Quintana’s deal with the Cubs runs through 2018 with $10.5 million club options for 2019 and 2020, and he is under team control through the 2020 season. Jake Arrieta and John Lackey are set to become free agents after this season.

Last year, the Cubs acquired Aroldis Chapman from the Yankees for then top-prospect Gleyber Torres, as they considered the closer would help them win the World Series. Evidently, their plan worked. The Cubs are 43-45 this season, just below the .500 mark.

“Honestly, [this trade] didn’t have a lot to do with the Brewers,” Epstein said. “They’re legitimate, a strong contender.”

The Cubs were last crushed by the Pittsburgh Pirates 14-3 on Sunday, the finale of a three-game home series Chicago lost 2-1. The defending World Series champions next travel to Baltimore on Friday night for a three-game series against the Orioles. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 pm EST.

DENVER, CO – JULY 08: Starting pitcher Jose Quintana #62 throws in the first inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on July 8, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

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Written by Pablo Mena