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2017 Fantasy Baseball: Chicago Cubs Acquire Jose Quintana

The Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox pulled off the first major trade of the 2017 season when the White Sox agreed to trade starting pitcher Jose Quintana for minor leagers Eloy Jimenez, Dylan Cease, Matt Rose, and Bryant Flete. The trade also marks the first significant crosstown trade between the two teams in some time.

Why the Cubs make this trade?

Ironically, this trade has little to do with 2017. Entering the second half, the Cubs stand at 43-45 and 5.5 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central. They are even further back in the wild card standings. There is definitely a chance the Cubs catch the Brewers with the addition of Quintana, but he is under club control through 2020. So, this was more about the next three seasons than it was about this season.

Quintana signed a very club friendly contract and the Cubs stand to lose Jake Arrieta and John Lackey after the season to free agency. They could go out and sign a free agent or sign them, but Quintana comes much cheaper and fits in nicely behind Jon Lester in the rotation. Quintana has struggle some this year, but the Cubs are a better fielding team than the White Sox and being in a pennant race should sharpen his focus.

Losing out on guys like Jimenez and Cease is difficult for any organization, but the Cubs are loaded with young talent now. Coupling Quintana with long-term assets like Lester and Kyle Hendricks gives the Cubs a leg up on next year and beyond. For 2017, adding in the likes of Arrieta give the Cubs one of te deepest rotations in the game.

Why the White Sox make this deal?

This is pretty simple on their part. The White Sox have spent a better part of a year stockpiling prospects. This time last season they had no one in the MLB.com top 100. Now, they have seven guys in the top 100 and three in the top 11. The combination of dealing Adam Eaton, Chris Sale, and Quintana have netted them nearly all of those prospects and more. They still have Todd Frazier and David Robertson left to deal and that might not be all.

If they deal those two players they could wind up with upwards of nine or ten of the top 100 prospects in baseball. That is a ridiculous sum for an organization that two years ago had one of the worst farm systems in baseball. Jimenez hasn’t put up tremendous numbers this season, but was a defensive standout in the 2016 Futures game and won the Midwest MVP award last season as well.

Cease also doesn’t have numbers that jump off the page, but scouts say he has a plus plus fastball to go along with a really good curve. His secondary offerings are a bit behind, but if he develops a credible changeup he could be a top of the rotation arm. As it stands, the worst that could happen is that he could stick as a late inning reliever.

Rose and Flete are more or less organizational filler at this point. Rose is 22 years old and barely in advanced A ball in his third professional season. Fortunately, the power is beginning to come as he is close to eclipsing his career high in home runs already. Unfortunately, he is a low average, high strikeout guy in the minors and those guys rarely ever develop into solid big league players. Flete has been in the system since 2012 and is really performing well in advanced A. At 24, he should be in at least AA, but he couldn’t hack it there with the bat.

What this deal means for you

The first thing I do when looking at pitchers changing teams is to look at the overall defense behind the pitcher. Baseball-reference uses defensive efficiency rating (DER) to measure the percentage of balls in play a team converts into outs. The Cubs are seventh in the big leagues with a .694 rating. The White Sox stand in 15th with a .690 DER. So, the Cubs and Joe Maddon’s infamous shifting give Quintana owners a little advantage.

The second thing we tend to look at are the park factors. The pitching factor over multiple seasons comes out to 97. That means that three percent fewer runs are produced in Wrigley Field than other stadiums. New Comiskey has nearly identical marks for one season and multiple seasons. So overall, the defense should improve behind Quintana which means he should approach his FIP numbers (4.01) and have a better chance of adding some wins for the first time in his career (50-54).

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