Analysis Cubs White Sox

Revisiting the Chicago Baseball Trade That Shocked The World

The Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox consummated a trade in 2017 that shocked the entire baseball world. This is a firsthand account of the deal.

On July 13th, 2017, the Cubs and White Sox consummated a trade that shocked the baseball world. Jose Quintana was traded to the Chicago Cubs for four prospects including Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease. Since then, Quintana has mostly underachieved on the north side and Jimenez and Cease have increased their status and look to be part of the future on the south side. Matt Schoolfield and James Fox wrote an instant reaction piece to the trade when both contributed at a different outlet. With the recent success of the parties involved in this deal, we decided that it would be a good time to repost the article to take the pulse of the feelings of yesteryear. Below you will find the immediate thoughts on the deal from the perspective of both sides of town.

Matt Schoolfield (Cubs Fan)

I was shocked when a co-worker came in my office and said the Cubs got Jose Quintana. Solid front of the rotation starter, left handed, track record, and a ridiculously nice contract is reinforcing the struggling starting rotation on the north side. I assumed something was coming soon for the Cubs when I noticed our very own James Fox’s tweet to Sahadev Sharma asking about Jimenez and Cease being scratched last night before the start of their game for the Cubs High A Myrtle Beach Pelicans.

I Never thought the Cubs were in on Quintana though – not because of a phantom unwillingness of the teams to deal within their own backyard, but I just didn’t feel like they would spend the amount it eventually took to get a starter like Quintana. This was a pretty ballsy move for both GM’s.

This trade is a statement from the Cubs that they are going to attack the 2nd half of the season – what that truly entails remains to be seen after their uninspiring start to the year. However, the Cubs front office is saying the guys that are here now are largely going to be the same guys that will be here for the foreseeable future. It is clearly win now and win as many as possible mode for the next 5 to 7 years for the Cubs. Getting a cost-controlled arm of the caliber of Quintana reinforces the fact that this organization while valuing their prospects, it doesn’t mean that they become blinded and attached to them and unwilling to move them.

Dealing freaking Eloy Jimenez could burn the hell out of them in the end. Same with the Gleyber Torres deal last year. But if this results in another World Series or two, it’s all worth it. They have had to cut bait with some really high level talent but in the end it was moves that needed to be made. You could make an argument that every spot in the field is road-blocked, barring a major injury.

Heyward’s deal is not going anywhere so RF is blocked. Schwarber doesn’t appear to be going anywhere along with Happ and Almora especially with the latter’s play in the field. Guys like Jon Jay will always find a spot on a team like this and not to mention needing to get Ben Zobrist in there. Baez, Happ, Russell, Zobrist, Bryant, and Rizzo make it hard for a guy like Jeimer Candelario unlikely to ever be a daily contributor for the Cubs within the next two years.

The Sox outlook for the near future is really starting to blow up. Even if they only hit on half of their current haul of prospects, they’ll be a dangerous team. And the depth could really go crazy depending what they get on any trades for Todd Frazier or Jose Abreu. Adding Cease’s arm to a stable with Kopech, Giolito, Lopez, Rodon, and Fulmer makes them as dangerous as anyone in the coming years. Moncada, Jimenez, Robert…scary – unbelievable pieces to add to any lineup. Chicago summers when both baseball teams are good are damn near unbeatable. And this is shaping up to be a really good run for both teams.

Ultimately I am happy with this deal from a Cubs perspective not only as much for this year but as for the next 3 years on a deal that’s ultimately a bargain for the quality of pitcher, especially considering the going rate. I don’t know if getting Quintana is going to be the spark for this year that this team needs but I do know they are better shape with him. I think another deal for an arm – likely a back end of the rotation type guy – is coming as well. Depending on how a deal like that works out could really play as big of a factor for a playoff run this season as landing Quintana. Slotting him in next year though between Lester and a hopefully healthy Kyle Hendricks is cool with me.  It seems like a no brainer deal and a win-win deal for both sides.

James Fox (White Sox fan)

I love the Jose Quintana trade for many reasons but the best part of the deal is that it signals an end to a narrative that just never really made any sense. It has been second nature for Cubs and Sox fans to come up with trade proposals over the past year. The Cubs assembled a deep stable of position players and the White Sox had cost-efficient top end starting pitching to trade. It was always presumed that the two clubs wouldn’t be making a deal with each other even though it made so much sense.

Rick Hahn has always said that he was open to dealing with all 29 clubs and he’d be doing his organization a disservice otherwise. Epstein and Hoyer have echoed the same sentiments. This trade just made too much sense and with reasonable, pragmatic executives running both clubs now, they found a way to get it done. Rick Hahn and Theo Epstein turned intracity trepidation on its head and united Chicago baseball fans for at least one day.

Jose Quintana is very good. He’s been worth 18.1 fWAR over the last four seasons and is on his way to another 4+ fWAR campaign this year. He compares favorably to Cubs pitcher Jon Lester and he’s also only 28 years old. He was the last remaining piece of the big 3 for Rick Hahn to cash in. Hahn will be making many more trades over the next year but none of them will bring back the prospect return that Quintana did yesterday. When the White Sox signaled their intentions and chose an organizational rebuild as their desired direction, they had three big chips to accelerate the chosen path. Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and Adam Eaton were all valuable trade assets that the South Siders had in tow and their contracts made them extra appealing.

Jose Quintana has been one of the 10 best pitchers in baseball since 2013 and he’s owed less than $40 million through the 2020 season. By trading Sale, Eaton and Quintana, the White Sox have turned a bottom five farm system into one that’s top three in the game. Rick Hahn was astute enough to sign his 3 stars to ridiculously team-friendly contract extensions and those extensions helped to acquire: Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Dane Dunning, Eloy Jimenez, Dylan Cease, and Luis Alexander Basabe. The White Sox have built the core of a farm system off of three really good trades and the organization is heading in a positive direction.

There was some chatter over the All-Star break that Quintana might be traded relatively quickly and multiple teams were mentioned in conjunction with interest. Outfielder Eloy Jimenez wasn’t really rumored to be in play due to perceived reluctance to complete a crosstown trade. There were some rumblings that the Cubs and Sox were talking on Tuesday and then again late Wednesday night but as fans, I think we’re conditioned to ignore rumors that would insinuate the Cubs and Sox as viable trade partners.

I believed that Quintana would be moved prior to his next start based on some intel that I’d received but the White Sox scheduling him to start Sunday made that even more obvious. In the times we are living in, the White Sox official twitter account breaking the trade on Thursday morning was news itself. I was ecstatic upon hearing the return and Jose Quintana was my favorite player on my favorite team. It was imperative for the White Sox to deal him though. He was helping them win games in a season where the club is designed to lose as many as possible.

Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease are the newest blue chippers to enter a budding White Sox system and it’s the perfect return. The White Sox aren’t looking for guys like Kyle Schwarber or Javier Baez at this time. The scouts are dug in to find prospects that won’t see 35th and Shields until 2018 and beyond. With a really high draft pick in his sights, Hahn accomplished many things by trading his de facto ace. He added two high impact prospects to his evolving system.

He also made it likely that the big league club would lose more games in the current season. Jimenez could be a middle-of-the-order force from 2019 and beyond. Cease could be a front-of-the-rotation starter or back-end dynamo in the future as well. It was an exceptional return for the Chicago White Sox.

The trade was also a big win for the Chicago Cubs however. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are in win-now mode while also trying to win into the future. The Cubs decision makers have spoken ad nauseum about their desire to add high-impact cost-controlled starting pitching. They were able to do that without subtracting from their major league roster. Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease was a formidable return that was hard for other teams to match but the return itself shouldn’t really impact much of what the Cubs are trying to accomplish. Jimenez didn’t have a clear path to the majors with the Cubs and Cease is very far away from contributing to a team, let alone one hoping to be in a pennant race.

The Cubs aren’t just acquiring Jose Quintana to make a playoff push this season. They also have Quintana for pennant races in 2018, 2019, and 2020. This is truly the rare case where a deal of this magnitude made complete sense for both sides. It just doesn’t usually come together as easily as this appeared to come together. The Cubs are in great shape with Theo Epstein running their organization. Rick Hahn has shown that he might be pretty good at General Managing as well. With Thursday’s Red Line exchange, the Cubs and White Sox have both increased their chances of winning a World Series and that’s the real barometer to how trades should be judged.

** This article was originally published on in 2017.

Follow Matt Schoolfield and James Fox on Twitter. Feature photo credit: The Loop Sports


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