And They Said It Could Never Happen

13 Jul, 2017

The Cubs got a jump on teams looking for starting pitching now and in the future by acquiring Jose Quintana from the crosstown White Sox for top prospects Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease plus two other Minor Leaguers.

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said the deal was not done as a reaction to the first half, which finds the defending World Series champions 5 1/2 games behind the Brewers 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 Cubs were able to make the trade without touching any of the 25-man roster, which is their preference, Epstein said.

“Despite the bad first half, which we’re accountable for, we believe in this group,” he said. “We’re not looking to sell low on members of our core and we hope to keep it intact if possible and win more World Series with this group.”

Of course, the Cubs paid a heavy price by giving up what were the top two prospects in their organization, according to MLB Pipeline, and Jimenez and Cease now rank No. 2 and No. 8, respectively, in a loaded White Sox system.

“This deal had zero-percent chance of happening without both Eloy and Cease in it,” Epstein said.

With the trade, the White Sox load up on more elite prospects. Jimenez, 20, is the No. 8 prospect in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline. The outfielder was batting .271 with eight home runs and 32 RBIs in 42 games for Class A Myrtle Beach. Cease, 21, is the No. 63 prospect in baseball. Cease had a 2.79 ERA in 51 2/3 innings over 13 starts for Class A South Bend.

Also going to the White Sox are first baseman Bryant Flete, 24, and infielder Matt Rose, 22, who were both playing at Myrtle Beach. (Coincidentally, Myrtle Beach hosted Winston-Salem — the White Sox’s Carolina League affiliate — on Thursday, and both Flete and Jimenez were in the lineup. Flete went 1-for-3 with a walk and Jimenez was 1-for-4 with 2 RBIs in a 3-2 Winston-Salem win.)

The deal continues what has been a massive rebuild for the White Sox, who now have nine of MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 prospects, including No. 1 overall prospect Yoan Moncada, tying them for the most of any Major League team. Over the winter they acquired Moncada and right-hander Michael Kopech (the No. 11 overall prospect) from Boston in the Chris Saletrade, and right-handers Lucas Giolito (No. 28) and Reynaldo Lopez (No. 36) from Washington in the Adam Eaton deal. And then, in May, they gave a $26 million signing bonus to Cuban outfielder Luis Robert, who now ranks as the No. 23 prospect in MLB, per Pipeline.

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