Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Case For (and against) Jose Quintana

Look I know LHP Jose Quintana was traded to the Cubs this morning for 1B/DH Eloy Jimenez, RHP Dylan Cease, 1B Matt Rose, and IF Bryant Flete.

Coming into this season, Jimenez was a consensus Top-15 prospect (Both Baseball America and ranked him #14, while BP had Jimenez at #10) so he's the main guy in this deal. For High-A Myrtle Beach this season, Jimenez hit .271/.351/.490 in 42 games. In Baseball America's midseason rankings Jimenez came in at #5.

Dylan Cease was in Baseball America's (#97) and's (#77) Top 100 list going into the season. For Low-A South Bend Cease had thrown 51.2IP with a 2.79 ERA/1.26 WHIP with 74K:26BB. Cease was #83 in BA's midseason rankings.

Matt Rose was not in anyone's Top 100 list and had .761 OPS for Myrtle Beach at the time he was traded this morning. Bryant Flete is in his Age 24 season with a .780 OPS for Myrtle Beach. So really we're looking at one of the best prospects in the game, another Top 100 guy, and two other Maybes.

A companion trade that involves the Astros might look along the lines of Kyle Tucker, Forrest Whitley, Jason Martin, and Dexture McCall.

Would you have made that trade for Jose Quintana? Jon Heyman reported earlier this week that the Astros didn't even see Quintana as an ace anymore, and really, that's what it comes down to. It's not the package given up, it's that the Cubs are going to lose Arrietta and Lackey this offseason, and they get a cost-controlled pitcher for the next 3.5 seasons in return. So let's look at that:

Jose Quintana is actually bad

If you think Quintana is bad, then of course you don't make a deal like this. Quintana will be 29 next January. He's under a very team-friendly contract, making $6m this year, $8.8m next year, with two $10.5m team options to get through the 2020 season. Still, after four consecutive 200+ IP seasons, maybe he's starting to wear down. Right now his ERA, FIP, and xFIP are all above 4.00. Quintana is striking out batters at a career rate (9.4 K/9) but his BB/9 has risen from 1.92 in 2015 to 2.16 in 2016, to 3.45 in 2017. He allowed 22 home runs in 208IP last season and in 104.1IP in 2017 has already allowed 14. So, sure, he's cheap, but is he also declining? And do you give up one of the best prospects in the game, a really good one, as well, and two other blokes to get that done?

Jose Quintana is actually good

Or maybe you think that Quintana's numbers reflect his mood souring on his team after they traded away Chris Sale and Adam Eaton. This is also a pitcher that gets virtually no run support. He's a career 50-54 pitcher but has 68 No Decisions in which he's carrying a 3.36 ERA. In 169 starts for Chicago, he's gotten 6+ runs of support in just 43 of them.

Remember Luhnow talking about seeking out trades that give them favorable matchups in October? Consider that Quintana in his career has held the Indians to a .635 OPS, and the Red Sox to a .693 OPS. It's only two starts, but the Dodgers haven't scored an earned run off of him. Quintana could have formed a 1-2 lefty punch with Keuchel (maybe broken up by McCullers as SP2, but you get what I mean).

We don't know if the White Sox ever budged from their demands of Tucker, Martes, and more. Do I think the Astros would have been interested in adding Quintana? Yes, but at the right price. Bob Nightengale reported this morning that the Astros were involved, but didn't come close to the package the Cubs offered.  The Astros have been very consistent in not overpaying in trades. Maybe after months of getting rebuffed for Tucker and Martes, the White Sox went in a different direction. Quintana's out of the AL now, so that's nice, but the White Sox are going to be a force here pretty soon. Also, Quintana said this week he preferred to stay in Chicago, so good for him.

Now what will this do to the trade market? Early returns are mixed on what the Cubs gave up, because there's uncertainty as to what the Cubs are actually getting. But consider this deal a standard template for Sonny Gray with a higher price tag for Julio Teheran, Jacob deGrom, Chris Archer, etc.