It’s exceedingly rare for the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox to make a trade, and the reason why was made perfectly clear by Theo Epstein on Thursday afternoon.
Speaking on a conference call, Epstein elaborated on the Cubs’ process in acquiring pitcher Jose Quintana from the Sox, and he dropped a bombshell about a previous negotiation between the two teams that didn’t go quite so smoothly.
Before the White Sox traded Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox in November, the Cubs had let their crosstown rival know that they were interested in his services, but the price tag turned out to be much too high.
“When Chris Sale was being put to the market, I called Rick and told him we were very interested,” Epstein said. “I was told it would have to be a huge package, including Kris Bryant, or there was nothing to talk about. So I figured it would be next to impossible to get a deal done for Quintana.
“Frankly I thought the chances of a deal between the two clubs of this magnitude were slim at best,” he added.
Bryant, who became just the fourth player to win the Rookie of the Year and MVP awards in consecutive seasons, was too steep a price to pay for the Cubs, and they opted to pull out of the negotiations for Sale’s services.
This time around, negotiations went much more smoothly, and talks too place over the All-Star break while the executives were in Miami.
“When Rick texted on Sunday and said he was narrowing in on the final suitors and asking if we wanted to be involved, and I told him that we would definitely want to be involved,” Epstein said. “I was expecting it wouldn’t go very far like the Bryant/Sale talks, and he laid out a deal that was intriguing enough to pursue it, and that led to a lot of back and forth.”
Quintana was sent to the North Siders in exchange for four prospects, including outfielder Eloy Jimenez and pitcher Dylan Cease.