Quin­tana traded to North Side

White Sox, Cubs seal crosstown trans­ac­tion

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS -

CHICAGO — The Chicago Cubs found the pitch­ing help they were look­ing for just a few miles from Wrigley Field. They hope it will give the scuf­fling team the kick it needs.

The de­fend­ing World Series cham­pi­ons ac­quired left-handed starter Jose Quin­tana from the White Sox on Thurs­day in a ma­jor trade be­tween crosstown ri­vals that could shake up the NL Cen­tral race.

By land­ing the 2016 All­Star, the Cubs made it clear they’re not giv­ing up on a dif­fi­cult sea­son after ar­riv­ing at the break two games un­der .500. They also added a pitcher who fig­ures to be a key piece in the ro­ta­tion for at least the next few years.

“We had a bad first half,” Cubs pres­i­dent of base­ball op­er­a­tions Theo Ep­stein said. “We did. We own that. We know we can do bet­ter.”

The Cubs trail Mil­wau­kee by 5½ games in the di­vi­sion at 43-45 after end­ing a 108-year cham­pi­onship drought last fall. They be­lieve they are set up to con­tend for years to come with stars such as Kris Bryant and An­thony Rizzo.

By trad­ing for Quin­tana, they brought in a starter who is un­der club con­trol through 2020. They had to give up two top prospects in out­fielder Eloy Jimenez and right-handed pitcher Dy­lan Cease, along with mi­nor league in­field­ers Matt Rose and Bryant Flete.

Quin­tana has pitched bet­ter lately after a slow start and is 4-8 with a 4.49 ERA in 18 starts. He won a ca­reer-high 13 games last

sea­son with a per­sonal-best 3.20 ERA while mak­ing his first All-Star team and is 5054 with a 3.51 ERA since de­but­ing with the White Sox in 2012. White Sox Gen­eral Man­ager Rick Hahn said let­ting him go was a dif­fi­cult choice for the re­build­ing team.

“He’s a true pro­fes­sional who had to deal with ev­ery­thing from poor run sup­port to the bullpen oc­ca­sion­ally let­ting him down, the de­fense let­ting him down,” Hahn said. “He cer­tainly never com­plained, never threw his arms up in the air, never rolled his eyes, never ex­pressed any dis­plea­sure with his team­mates. In­stead, he was al­ways sup­port­ive and con­tin­ued to go about his busi­ness and set a won­der­ful ex­am­ple for the other young play­ers in our club­house.”

Ep­stein called the White Sox a “sur­pris­ing dance part­ner” be­cause of their prox­im­ity. But the deal makes sense given each other’s needs.

Quin­tana joins a team that came into the sea­son ex­pected to dom­i­nate again on the heels of a 103-vic­tory sea­son.

In­stead, the Cubs are strug­gling to come through with big hits. They are bat­ting .230 with run­ners in scor­ing po­si­tion — 27th in the ma­jors. And the start­ing ro­ta­tion has been shaky, with a 4.66 ERA that ranks 17th in the ma­jors.

Ace Jon Lester got pounded by Pitts­burgh for 10 runs in two-thirds of an in­ning in his most re­cent start. Jake Ar­ri­eta, the 2015 NL Cy Young Award win­ner, has been in­con­sis­tent. Kyle Hen­dricks has been side­lined since June 4 be­cause of ten­dini­tis in his right hand, and John Lackey has a 5.20 ERA.

It was not clear when Quin­tana will make his Cubs de­but.

“We know we’re get­ting a very qual­ity, a very con­sis­tent start­ing pitcher who’s also a great per­son and great team­mate,” Ep­stein said. “He couldn’t be a bet­ter fit for our sit­u­a­tion.”

Hahn said he and Ep­stein ex­changed text mes­sages shortly after the draft. There wasn’t much com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween them un­til Hahn reached out Sun­day. Hahn told Ep­stein at that point any trade would have to in­volve Jimenez and Cease. Talks heated up over the next few days be­fore the teams agreed to the deal Wed­nes­day night.

Ep­stein ini­tially thought the chances of trad­ing for Quin­tana were slim. He said the White Sox asked for reign­ing NL MVP Bryant when he in­quired about a deal for All­Star pitcher Chris Sale in the off­sea­son. Though they paid a high price in prospects, the Cubs didn’t have to in­clude any cur­rent ma­jor lea­guers to get Quin­tana.

The White Sox con­tinue to load up on young play­ers. They started to re­build after four con­sec­u­tive los­ing sea­sons last win­ter when they traded Sale to Bos­ton and out­fielder Adam Ea­ton to Wash­ing­ton. They ac­quired two of base­ball’s top prospects in re­turn, get­ting sec­ond base­man Yoan Mon­cada from the Red Sox and righthander Lu­cas Gi­olito from the Na­tion­als.

The White Sox also signed prized Cuban prospect Luis Robert to a mi­nor league deal in May.

“I think we’ve made great strides in the last 12 months,” Hahn said. “I think we’ve had two very fine drafts. With the trades, we’ve ac­quired some very highly re­garded, po­ten­tially im­pact, play­ers.

“In terms of how close we are to the end of this process? I don’t have an an­swer for that yet.”

Quin­tana

AP/ROSS D. FRANKLIN

Out­fielder Eloy Jimenez was one of four play­ers traded Thurs­day by the Chicago Cubs to the Chicago White Sox in ex­change for pitcher Jose Quin­tana. The White Sox now have two highly touted prospects in their sys­tem with Jimenez and Yoan Mon­cada, who was ac­quired in last sea­son’s trade with the Bos­ton Red Sox for pitcher Chris Sale.

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