The Cubs and White Sox pulled off a surprise deal Thursday, with Sox ace left-hander Jose Quintana going to the Cubs for outfielder Eloy Jiménez, the No. 5 prospect in baseball according to Baseball America’s updated midseason rankings, right-handed pitcher Dylan Cease, first baseman Matt Rose and infielder Bryant Flete.
Jiménez (No. 8) and Cease (63) give the Sox nine of the top 100 prospects in baseball according to MLB.com, tied for the most in the major leagues. The new additions join infielder Yoán Moncada (1), right-hander Michael Kopech (11), outfielder Luis Robert (23), right-handers Lucas Giolito (28), Reynaldo López (36) and Carson Fulmer (59) and catcher Zack Collins (68) on the MLB.com Top 100 list.
“This package of [Cubs] prospects was far and away the best offer we’ve received from any club,” said general manager Rick Hahn, who traded Chris Sale and Adam Eaton in December to begin a full rebuild.
“All four players add talent and depth to our organization, which has been one of our very public goals over the past nine months, and their ages and development arc match nicely with some of the other young talent we have been fortunate to add in recent trades, the draft and international signings.
“In Eloy, we are acquiring a player who, similar to Moncada, is viewed as one of the top prospects in baseball today with the potential for major impact in the not too distant future. Dylan brings us an impressive young pitcher who is ranked among the top pitching prospects in the game.”
Trade talks with several teams have ramped in the last 10 days for Quintana, said Hahn, who touched base with Cubs president Theo Epstein via text message Sunday, spoke with him at the All-Star Game this week (he said they ducked behind an exhibit to avoid being seen) and finalized the deal Wednesday night.
Quintana, 28, has been one of the most consistent left-handers in baseball. He has posted a 4.49 ERA this year but is 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.
“It is always extremely difficult to trade a person and player like José Quintana,” said Hahn, “but difficult as it was, this deal moves us closer to our goal of building a team capable of contending for multiple championships over an extended period of time. José, our scouts and coaches throughout the organization deserve a tremendous amount of credit for his development from a minor-league free agent signee to one of the most sought-after talents in the game.”
The 6-4, 205-pound Jimenez, 20, is batting .271 with eight home runs, 32 RBI and 23 runs scored over 42 games this season with Class A Myrtle Beach in the Carolina League. He missed the first six weeks of the season with a right shoulder injury but recovered in time to earn a spot on the World Team at the All-Star Futures Game for the second consecutive season.
Jimenez signed with the Cubs on August 1, 2013 as the No. 1 ranked international free agent according to MLB.com.
Cease, 21, is 1-2 with a 2.79 ERA over 13 starts this season with Class A South Bend.