Cubs-Sox trade smacks of instant relevance and historic significance

In late November 1970, the Cubs traded a trio of minor-league prospects — pitchers Pat Jacquez and Dave Lemonds and first baseman/outfielder Roe Skidmore — to the White Sox for a pair of fringe big-leaguers, first baseman Ossie Blanco and center fielder Jose Ortiz.

But you knew that already, right?

Of course you didn’t. As trade pieces go, each of those five players fell in the forest and didn’t make a sound. What’s to remember? Really, there have been two main themes to Cubs-Sox trades through the years: rarity and — with a handful of exceptions — irrelevance.

That’s what makes Thursday’s whopper of a deal between our city’s teams not only riveting in the here-and-now, but historically significant. Not only was new Cub Jose Quintana the best starting pitcher the Sox had, but — the real kicker — his club-friendly contract should keep him on the North Side through 2020. In return, the Sox got outfielder Eloy Jimenez and fireballing right-hander Dylan Cease — the Cubs’ Nos. 1 and 2 prospects, respectively — along with two other minor-leaguers.

DENVER, CO - JULY 08: Starting pitcher Jose Quintana #62 throws in the first inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on July 8, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 700011566

Irrelevant? There’s hardly a chance of that. This deal plays perfectly into each side’s plans: for the Cubs, to chase championships while their window is wide open; and for the Sox, to be the most well-stocked up-and-comer in baseball.

“I’m proud of both organizations for prioritizing the baseball components of the deal and making this happen,” Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said.

That they did was truly a surprise. For many reasons — none bigger than the in-your-face shame of emerging as the loser in a trade — any executive who shares a market with another major-league team would prefer to deal out-of-market.

“Frankly,” Epstein said, “I thought the chances of a deal between the two clubs of this magnitude were slim at best — really a long shot.”

When Sox ace Chris Sale was on the market last offseason, the Cubs were plenty interested . . . until Sox general manager Rick Hahn spoke two words: “Kris” and “Bryant.” Translation: total non-starter.

That would have been the mother of all Cubs-Sox trades, but the one that just happened could go down as the biggest ever between the teams. For the time being, both sides feel like winners.

Follow me on Twitter @SLGreenberg.

Email: sgreenberg@suntimes.com

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