Jose Quintana: Could the unthinkable trade actually happen?
Sammy Sosa and Ron Santo, two names that will forever live in Cubs lore. However, those two also share a distinction that not many people can say. They were a big name involved in a Cubs-White Sox trade.
It’s no secret that the White Sox are in full rebuild mode, trading away assets such as LHP Chris Sale and CF Adam Eaton for prospects who haven’t yet made the big league roster. Many have speculated that Jose Quintana could be next.
The Cubs haven’t had a hot start to the season, and their starting pitching has been a major factor to that problem. Without a real place to improve their position players, Theo Epstein has all but said the Cubs will trade for a big name pitcher by the July 31 trade deadline.
Obviously, these teams seem like a match made in heaven for a trade. The Cubs would get a fourth ace to add to their staff, and the White Sox would get at least two more top 100 prospects. However, being in the same city, history is not on their side.
Very few big names have ever been dealt in trades involving teams from the same city. Sosa was traded as a prospect to the Cubs, and Santo was in the tail end of his career when he was traded to the South Siders. There hasn’t been a name anywhere near the stature of those two traded between the Yankees and Mets, Dodgers and Angels, or Giants and Athletics.
While the common mantra in any sport is that any team would trade with any team, that is not true. There is a reason the Cubs and Cardinals or Yankees and Red Sox don’t make many trades, and the Cubs and White Sox would completely fit into that column, as big rivals.
While many White Sox were rooting for the Cubs in their playoff run last season, the last thing the White Sox fans would want is for the Cubs to get better. Don’t kid yourself, the two teams are rivals, the city being divided north, for Cubs fans, and south, for Sox fans.
However, the White Sox fans saw what the Cubs did to get good. Many were imploring White Sox GM Rick Hahn to do the same thing for years, before he finally jump started the rebuild by trading Eaton and Sale last offseason. Quintana, whose small contract is driving his trade value sky high, is the next logical step to improve the already stellar White Sox farm system.
The Cubs not only have the starting pitching need, but they also have the pieces they can trade for Quintana. They have four Top 100 prospects (via MLB.com) including the game’s tenth best prospect, OF Eloy Jimenez. Ian Happ has been great for the Cubs since being called up to the majors on May 13, and Joe Maddon’s aptitude towards him may open up the possibility of either 2B Javier Baez or OF Albert Almora, who both played huge roles in the Cubs World Series victory last season, being traded.
While the actual price point that Rick Hahn would want to deal Quintana for is unknown, all that is known is that it will be more than the price for Pirates RHP Gerrit Cole, who is also thought to be on the trading block with the Pirates desperately struggling to start the season.
The Cubs easily have the trade chips to give up for Gerrit Cole, with prospects to spare. The next logical step up would be Quintana, who has settled down after an extremely rocky start to the 2017 campaign. Quintana would also fill the Cubs have with left handed starting pitchers, as Brett Anderson has been hurt multiple times this season, and the Cubs feel content with Mike Montgomery as an arm coming out of the bullpen, leaving Jon Lester as the only lefty starter.
Quintana to the Cubs is a perfect fit. The Cubs should be able to give up what they need to in order to land Quintana, and they would be getting a huge piece to their championship defense with an insanely team friendly contract. The White Sox would likely get another top 10 prospect among a package of other young stars.
Now, the question is whether Theo Epstein and Rick Hahn would be willing to break the stigma of inter-city trading.
While it would be an interesting scenario, it is highly unlikely the White Sox deal Quintana to their cross-town rivals. The Astros and Yankees both seem really keen on adding a starting pitcher as well, and the Red Sox and Nationals are not teams to rule out either.
Personally, I expect him to get dealt to the Yankees, who have one of the top farm systems in the league, as well as a really good major league roster devoid of a true elite starter. However, time will tell. One thing is for sure though, the White Sox are going to get some great young players for Quintana.