Published: Sun, July 16, 2017
Business | By Max Garcia

MLB Rumors: Cubs Targeting Sonny Gray After Jose Quintana Trade

MLB Rumors: Cubs Targeting Sonny Gray After Jose Quintana Trade

The Chicago White Sox dealt pitcher Jose Quintana across town to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for four minor leaguers including Eloy Jimenez, who is considered one of the best hitting prospects in baseball. Left hander draws Saturday's start against the visiting Chicago Cubs in interleague play.

They were in a bit of a predicament.

The Cubs had to surrender their top two prospects (granted, recent call-ups like Ian Happ are excluded from that list) in order to acquire Quintana, and from a cross-town rival no less. That group, which was stellar in 2016 and had similar expectations this season, has been mediocre (and that's being kind) in 2017. Their production has just taken a hit. Baltimore are 2-5 in their last 7 interleague games and Baltimore are 37-14 in their last 51 games versus a team with a losing record while Baltimore are 1-4 in their last 5 home games.

Gray, 27, has started 13 games for the A's this season, posting a 4-4 record with a 4.00 ERA and 74 strikeouts over 78 2/3 innings of work. "There was no way to make this deal happen without those guys".

The big loser in this deal will be Mike Montgomery in the short term and Eddie Butler in the long term.

Epstein would never say never to trading any of these players - he did tell Sox general manager Rick Hahn that he would not trade Bryant for pitcher Chris Sale last winter - but that the preferred method is to keep the young group together to try to win more than one World Series over the next four or five years. Quintana has gone 50-54 with a 3.51 ERA and 890 strikeouts in 172 career games (169 starts) after being signed as a minor-league free agent on November 11, 2011. The reason the price was so steep is Quintana's contact situation is very team-friendly; he's under club control through 2020, should the club kick in no-brainer options for 2019 and 2020 (both $10.5 million per). So now teams will have to consider really cutting their farm system in order to get that piece they need for a run. (It later emerged that Rick Hahn and Theo Epstein ducked backstage at the All-Star FanFest to talk business.) Well, nearly no leaks. The Cubs are 43-45, well behind their 53-35 mark through 88 games last season, when they ended a 108-year World Series drought. While King Felix had a good start against Oakland, I am not sure that means he is back to his old form.

Something else to keep in mind.

Quintana is now 4-8 with a 4.49 ERA, the worst ERA of his five-year career, but is just a season removed from going 13-12 with a 3.20 ERA. If you are in a dynasty league and he is still out there, make sure you get him.

Another thing to consider: This probably signals the end of Arrieta's time with the Cubs. The World Series champs just have not been able to put it all together like they did so easily previous year - and manager Joe Maddon knows it.

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