Transaction Retrospection: Jose Quintana/Eloy Jimenez Commerce
Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of Eloy Jiménez’s MLB debut. With that in thoughts, it’s an fascinating time to look again on the blockbuster crosstown deal that introduced the 23-year-old slugger to the South Facet.
Jiménez wasn’t the headlining identify of that July 2017 swap. That was José Quintana, with good purpose. The southpaw had emerged as one of many sport’s most constant, dependable starters. True, he at all times performed second fiddle to Chris Sale, however he was maybe the sport’s preeminent #2. Over the three-plus seasons previous the deal, Quintana mixed for a 3.47 ERA/3.31 FIP with no harm historical past to talk of. Equally as interesting, the hurler was managed at nicely under market charges by way of 2020 due to an early-career extension.
The attraction for the Cubs was obvious. They’d a superlative place participant core that had carried them to the 2016 World Collection. The beginning rotation was already a energy, however one with some query marks on the horizon. Jake Arrieta and John Lackey had been every approaching free company, and it was truthful to surprise for the way for much longer Jon Lester may put up ace-level manufacturing. Locking in an inexpensive, younger rotation stalwart like Quintana made excellent sense for that season and past.
It got here at a hefty worth. Jiménez, Baseball America’s #14 prospect getting into that season, centered the bundle for the White Sox. Alongside him got here one other high 100 prospect, flamethrowing right-hander Dylan Stop. It was straightforward to see the South Siders’ considering, too. By no means capable of construct a reliable roster round Sale, Quintana, Adam Eaton and José Abreu, the Sox had already pivoted to a teardown. Abreu caught round, however the remainder of the core was shipped off for future property. It was a captivating, if mutually-understandable swap, with the golf equipment’ crosstown rivalry little question including intrigue. How have issues truly performed out?
To some extent, as anticipated. Quintana has remained remarkably sturdy and brought the ball each fifth day. That’s been particularly helpful for a group whose issues about its long-term pitching outlook have typically confirmed true. Lester, Kyle Hendricks and Quintana have every been reliable, whereas huge ticket free agent Yu Darvish has had some excessive highs and lows.
Regardless of a deluge of current early-round picks on faculty arms, although, the Cubs haven’t established any type of pitching pipeline from the farm system to complement that quartet. On the one hand, that lack of low cost, in-house pitching makes buying Quintana all of the extra significant. But it’s additionally performed some function in holding the Cubs from reaching the dynastic heights some had anticipated.
For the reason that deal, the Cubs have been stable, however not fairly on the degree one may’ve fairly hoped for. That characterization additionally applies to Quintana himself. The Colombian lefty has given the Cubs 400+ innings of 4.23 ERA/3.95 FIP ball. That’s about league common manufacturing on a price foundation. Along with his distinctive sturdiness, he’s a beneficial pitcher, particularly relative to his contract. However he hasn’t pitched on the degree he confirmed on the opposite aspect of city. Now 31, Quintana’s getting into the ultimate season (assuming there’s a season) of the aforementioned extension. He’s a believable however unsure candidate for a qualifying supply subsequent winter, which may enable the Cubs so as to add a draft decide.
Even when Quintana does internet a compensatory decide, that participant received’t challenge to be wherever close to the extent of Jiménez. (That, after all, is what the Cubs anticipated, since there was at all times going to be a excessive worth to pay for a pitcher of Quintana’s caliber). Not solely did Jiménez proceed to thrive within the White Sox’s system, he’s already discovered main league success.
Final season, Jiménez hit .267/.315/.513 (116 wRC+) with 31 residence runs in 504 plate appearances. He’s not with out his flaws; he didn’t price nicely in left subject and will maybe stand to be a bit of extra affected person on the plate. But there’s no questioning Jiménez’s huge energy upside, and he actually appears the a part of a possible middle-of-the-order pressure. Clearly, the White Sox count on him to be simply that, having inked him to a $43MM assure that might maintain him in Chicago by way of 2026. So continues the lengthy line of early-career extensions the group has amassed lately. These offers (Quintana’s included) have paid big dividends on the entire.
Stop, too, has a shot at rising as a long-term asset. He raised his inventory instantly after the commerce with a robust season and a half within the minors. That didn’t translate in his first 14 MLB begins final season, however there are issues to dream on. Stop posted a stable 24.9% strikeout price as a rookie whereas averaging 96.5 MPH on his fastball. His is a higher-variance profile than Jiménez’s, however the Sox absolutely hope he can emerge as a helpful arm within the close to future, even when as a reliever.
With the advantage of hindsight, it’s in all probability truthful to say the Cubs wouldn’t make this deal once more. It was a superbly defensible transfer on the time, and Quintana has capably stuffed a key want on the roster. It’s not a catastrophe, as a couple of of the entrance workplace’s free agent strikes have been. However Quintana’s slight regression on the North Facet, mixed with Jiménez’s continued blossoming offensively, appears to have tipped the scales within the White Sox’s favor.