Cubs

The Cubs-White Sox blockbuster makes perfect sense for everybody involved

The Cubs-White Sox blockbuster makes perfect sense for everybody involved

Who says the Cubs and White Sox won't trade with each other?

Thursday morning, the two teams broke the news themselves that Jose Quintana was moving to the North Side in exchange for the Cubs' top prospects (Eloy Jimenez, Dylan Cease and two others):

This move makes so much sense for both sides:

—The Cubs got their long-term, top of the rotation starting pitching options.

—The White Sox now easily have the top stable of prospects in baseball.

Quintana instantly climbs near the top of the Cubs rotation and gives the North Siders one of the most talented starting staffs in baseball, even with Kyle Hendricks still on the disabled list and Jake Arrieta struggling to find consistency. 

The White Sox embraced the rebuild over the winter, trading away Chris Sale and Adam Eaton in a span of two days in early December for a haul of prospects headlined by Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez. Add Jimenez and Cease into the mix and the Sox have two of the top five prospects in the game (Moncada and Jimenez) and easily the best farm system. The rebuild is in full effect and it's glorious.

Oh, and Quintana doesn't even have to move if he doesn't want to. He only has to learn a new side of the town.

From the Cubs' perspecitve, this is an incredible get in both the short and long term.

For 2017, the Cubs just got a gigantic jolt to a team that entered the All-Star Break two games under .500 and 5.5 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central.

Quintana doesn't turn 29 until January and is under team control through the 2020 season, during which time his price tag will come in at just under $30 million. Considering the insane price of pitching nowadays, Quintana is one of the cheapest options available in baseball.

But Quintana isn't just cheap. He's been one of the most valuable pitchers in baseball over the last few years.

From the start of 2014 through the first half of 2017, Quintana has accumulated 16.6 WAR (FanGraphs), the exact same total as Jon Lester in that span and tied for seventh in baseball. Jake Arrieta (17.5) is sixth on that list, giving the Cubs a three-headed monster of elite arms atop the rotation.

The list of players who have been LESS valuable than Jose Quintana over the last four years includes Madison Bumgarner, Zack Greinke, Johnny Cueto, Stephen Strasburg, Chris Archer and Jacob deGrom.

Quintana is off to a rough start this season and carries a 4-8 record and 4.49 ERA, but he has been very good since the start of June: 2.70 ERA, 1.20 ERA in seven starts.

The southpaw also has reached 200 innings in four straight seasons — with a 3.35 ERA and 1.22 WHIP — coming into the 2017 campaign.

But the real winners in this deal are the Chicago fans.

Sox fans still get to witness every one of Quintana's starts and they can rest easy in the short term knowing they got the best package of prospects a trade could possibly offer this summer.

Plus, Quintana pitching for the Cubs only directly impacts the Sox record for those four Crosstown games each season (which ironically start in just over a week). 

And of course, Cubs fans now can rest easy knowing their biggest long-term concern (starting pitching) has been solved...for now.

Cubs sign oft-injured reliever Brandon Morrow to minor-league deal

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USA TODAY

Cubs sign oft-injured reliever Brandon Morrow to minor-league deal

Brandon Morrow hasn’t pitched in a big-league game since July 2018, but he’ll get a shot at making a comeback next season.

Morrow is set to sign a minor league deal with the Cubs, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today. It’s worth $1 million if he makes the Cubs' roster and could reach $2.25 million if Morrow makes 65 big-league appearances. 

Morrow hasn’t pitched since July 15, 2018, missing the second half of that season with right biceps inflammation. He underwent a debridement procedure on his right elbow last offseason, which was supposed to keep him out for the first month of the 2019 season. But Morrow suffered several setbacks and never pitched in 2019. 

Morrow’s agent, Joel Wolfe, told Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times last month that the right-hander feels a sense of loyalty to the Cubs after they stuck by him through thick and thin. He said Morrow was open to a minor league deal.

When he last pitched, Morrow was one of the most dominant closers in baseball. He posted a 1.47 ERA in 35 games in 2018, converting 22 of 24 save tries. He provided the Cubs with a power arm in the back of the bullpen, striking out 31 batters in 30 2/3 innings compared to nine walks.

For the Cubs, Morrow is a low-risk addition with high-reward potential. He told ESPN’s Jesse Rogers that his arm feels great. If he’s healthy, he could be a major contributor to the Cubs' bullpen.

This time, the Cubs won’t place such high expectations on the 35-year-old. They expect closer Craig Kimbrel to bounce back in 2020 with a normal offseason ahead of him. Kimbrel signed a three-year, $43 million deal with the Cubs last June and struggled mightily, posting a 6.53 ERA in 23 games.

If healthy, Morrow could prove to be a lethal weapon in front of Kimbrel. If he can’t stay healthy, it’s not like the Cubs are investing a lot of money in him, as they did two offseasons ago when Morrow signed a two-year, $21 million deal.

Simply put: if Morrow pans out, great. If he can’t stay healthy, the Cubs can move on without losing a large investment.

If Rangers sign Nicholas Castellanos, it could lead them to Kris Bryant deal

If Rangers sign Nicholas Castellanos, it could lead them to Kris Bryant deal

After losing out on free agent third baseman Anthony Rendon, the Texas Rangers have spoken to agent Scott Boras about Cubs free agent outfielder Nicholas Castellanos, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.

Castellanos played third with the Detroit Tigers from 2014-17, but considering he posted a -64 Defensive Runs Saved mark in four seasons, he won’t be moving back there. Interestingly, however, Castellanos is willing to consider playing first base, according to Grant.

The Cubs — who are reportedly still pursuing Castellanos — obviously would be affected if the 27-year-old signs with Texas, as they'll lose one of their most productive players from 2019. But besides that, Castellanos landing with the Rangers would impact the Kris Bryant trade market.

The Rangers are looking for a consolation plan at third base after missing out on Rendon. They have a three-year offer on the table for Donaldson, according to Grant, and signing him would cost them only money. The same cannot be said about acquiring a third baseman via trade, like Kris Bryant, who would cost several assets.

But if Donaldson doesn’t sign with the Rangers, they might be more inclined to pursue Bryant. Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said at the Winter Meetings they’ll address third base this offseason, and the Cubs' third baseman would be the best option left. That is, unless Texas calls the Rockies about Nolan Arenado.

Daniels also indicated that the Rangers are unlikely to trade for a player with only a few years of team control left (like Bryant) without making other major additions.

“There are some trade options [that] would have quite frankly made more sense in our mind if we had landed the free agents at the top of our list,” Daniels said. “I don’t love the idea of half measures. I don’t love the idea of taking a chunk out of the system if it doesn’t really make sense. Trading for somebody with a year or two of control makes more sense if the club is a little more filled out.”

So if the Rangers land Castellanos, a pursuit of Bryant could follow. But the same might also be true if they sign Donaldson, thanks to Bryant’s positional versatility.

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