For the first time in over a decade, the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox have made a trade, as pitcher Jose Quintana will take his talents to the North Side.
The deal, which was consummated quickly, took the baseball world by surprise and caught fans off-guard as they prepare for the second half of the season.
The big question at this point is a simple one: what does it all mean for both teams?
With the trade, the Cubs have shown conclusively that they fully intend on being buyers at this year’s trade deadline, but more importantly, they are looking to keep their championship window open for several years thanks to the addition of a cost-controlled young arm.
That part of the equation is especially important, as the Cubs are likely going to lose both John Lackey and Jake Arrieta to free agency this offseason. Lackey may end up retiring, but Arrieta will get a payday somewhere, and it doesn’t appear that he will with the Cubs.
The move also helps to prevent a potential backlog of talent in the Cubs’ lineup. Eloy Jimenez is a heck of a bat and he would have forced his way into the mix eventually, but players like Ian Happ have emerged on the scene to take up playing time, and the Cubs were already having an interesting time keeping everyone active in their lineup as it is.
Finally, the move should give a nice jolt to the Cubs this season. The team has been floundering on their way into the All-Star break, and adding a top pitcher like Quintana to the mix could very well spark the Cubs and help them catch up to the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central.
If they can get into the postseason, they instantly become a daunting opponent for any team. Having Quintana and Jon Lester as a 1-2 in the rotation is a terrifying prospect for teams, especially clubs like the Dodgers that have difficulty in hitting left-handed pitching. If Arrieta can get his command sorted out, or if Kyle Hendricks can find his 2016 form, the Cubs will somehow enter the postseason with a better rotation than they had in their World Series run.
While the Cubs are looking at maximizing their championship window for the next five years, the White Sox have added two more prospects that will take their farm system from one of the best in baseball to unquestionably the top system in the game.
According to a variety of rankings, the White Sox now have a staggering nine prospects in the Top 100 in the game. Jimenez was in the top 10 of most of those rankings, thanks to his explosive bat and his unique blend of speed and bat control. Meanwhile, Dylan Cease gives the White Sox yet another pitcher that can crack 100 MPH with his fastball, and the notion of putting him in the rotation or bullpen has to be a terrifying one for teams in the AL Central.
To be frank, the White Sox could have a better heart of the order than the Cubs in three or four years. Adding Jimenez to Yoan Moncada in that mix could eclipse what Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant bring to the Cubs, and in a ballpark like Guaranteed Rate Field, having that kind of explosive power could be a massive boost to the team’s chances at winning a title.
Best of all for the White Sox, they STILL have pieces to trade even after sending Quintana away. Todd Frazier could get a solid prospect if the Red Sox hop into the bidding for his services, and the Washington Nationals could give up a pretty penny to get David Robertson in to help their struggling bullpen.
Other players from the Sox could potentially net some mid-level prospects, but even if that’s all Chicago gets, the fact remains that their farm system is as stocked as it’s ever been, and they are looking at a potential renaissance within a few years on the South Side.