Chicago Cubs: Who won the Eloy Jimenez, Jose Quintana trade?


by - Correspondent -
David Banks - USA Today Sports
David Banks - USA Today Sports

This coming Tuesday, Eloy Jimenez will get the opportunity to make his Wrigley Field debut, something Cubs fans have been waiting for this day since he burst onto the scene as a top prospect in 2016. The only problem is, Jimenez will be sitting in the visitor's dugout and wearing a White Sox uniform.

Jimenez was the centerpiece of the trade which brought Jose Quintana to the Cubs. Along with Jimenez, the Cubs also sent prospects Dylan Cease, Matt Rose and Bryant Flete to the South Side. With Jimenez getting his first taste of Wrigley Field, it's time to look back on who is winning this trade.

When the deal was completed in July 2017, the Cubs were in the midst of terrible start and needed some assistance getting back to the playoffs. Quintana came in and pitched well, ultimately helping the Cubs get back to their 3rd consecutive NLCS. When the deal was made, Quintana had a career 3.51 ERA during his 5+ seasons with the White Sox. Along with his talent as a pitcher, Quintana's durability made him intriguing to the Cubs. Since his rookie year, he has made at least 32 starts in every season he has pitched in the big leagues. Quintana also has a very affordable salary, which is challenging to find with starting pitchers. Quintana is making $10,500,000 this year and next, a bargain in MLB terms.

Since he came up North, Quintana had been a good pitcher for the Cubs, going 24-20 with a 3.92 ERA. Quintana has continued to be durable and is always a reliable option for the Cubs. He struggled during parts of last season but has been much better after he began throwing his changeup more often. He has mostly been a fastball/curveball pitcher throughout his career, but in starts where he throws his changeup at least 10% of the time, his ERA drops nearly an entire run. Quintana has fit into his role as the third starter nicely and clearly been an excellent addition for the Cubs. The Cubs have needed his contributions in the past and they certainly will going forward, making this deal worthwhile from that perspective.

Jimenez tore through the minor leagues with as much attention as any prospect. His long home runs grew to things of legend, and he became a social media icon. After making the opening day roster, Jimenez struggled out of the gates. Jimenez has a meager on-base percentage at .307 and has struck out 51 times to just 12 walks. His slow start really shouldn’t raise any concern, however, as it’s so difficult for any player to adjust to major league pitching, especially one with that much expectation. Jimenez has clubbed five home runs so far this month getting his power back and seems to be warming up to major league pitching. Overall Jimenez has hit .253 with 11 home runs. He has shown the capability to have a few 40 homer seasons in his career.

Beyond just Jiminez, it should be noted that the Cubs also sent pitcher Dylan Cease over in the trade. Cease has been dominant in the minors going 3-0 with a 1.89 ERA and 13.4 strikeouts per 9 innings in AA over ten starts. The ERA has climbed to 4.29 this year in AAA but he has still struck out 60 batters in 57 innings. Hit walk totals are high, averaging 3.9 walks per 9 innings. Cease looks like he could be a great MLB pitcher and possibly just as good as Jimenez.

Yes, the White Sox do deserve a lot of credit for getting back a significant haul in the trade. They were in a much different spot than the Cubs in 2017 and were ready to risk acquiring prospects. As good as Cease and Jiminez are, and I wish them the best, prospects are always unknown. If it were easy to pick out talent, Mike Trout would not have fallen to #25 in the draft. Only time will tell on how good Cease and Jiminez turn out to be, whereas Quintana is an established player. The White Sox got a lot of talent back and projected all-stars, which suited a rebuilding team.

The overall outlook, however, is that the Cubs were right to make this deal when they did. Quintana helps the Cubs the most in the short team and for a team with a championship window that’s all that matters. The Cubs are in win-now mode and its always impossible to tell when these windows will close. The Cubs need to take advantage of the team they have now, and that meant shipping out prospects to get quality, major league ready talent. They made that decision when they got Quintana, and they were right to take the risk.

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