The Chicago Cubs adding Jose Quintana in their effort to defend their World Series title and make up for games behind in the NL Central so they can make the playoffs for a third straight year means all the talk about championship hangover and other excuses needs to stop.
The Cubs were seeing things weren’t working for them on a number of fronts, including starting pitching, ranking just 25th in the majors in terms of quality starts. So they made a move for the last remaining star of their crosstown rivals, giving up a lot of young talent in Eloy Jimenez, Dylan Cease, Matt Rose and Bryant Flete. Quintana comes with a very controllable deal. The remainder of his $7 million contract for 2017, $8. million for 2018 and then a team option of $10.5 million in 2019, and another team option ($11.5 million) for 2020. In short, a 28-year old with 1 All-Star appearance controllable through 2020.
Calling the season the Cubs are having a disappointment would be a gross understatement. They’re only 43-45, 5.5 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central, and things are even worse in the Wild Card standing. They haven’t won any of their last 6 series, including dropping 2 of 3 against the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates from the same division. Pitching hasn’t been great, but their offense has been even worse: Only 20th in runs, 28th in batting average and 19th in slugging.
Quintana needs to bounce back too
The Cubs haven’t been great, but Quintana hasn’t been stellar as well. After 5 terrific years to start off his White Sox career, Quintana, who expected to be dealt during the offseason along with Chris Sale, has been playing the worse baseball of his career: 4.49 ERA, 1.323 WHIP and an awful 2.73 SO/W ratio. Yes, it’s been bad, but switching leagues could be helpful, as well as a change in scenery. Quintana’s comments about joining the Cubs while staying in the same city hint towards him waiting to be dealt for quite some time.
Not just about 2017
Even if they fail to make the playoffs this season, the Cubs seem to be angling towards long term dominance. Their core group has some time to go before they start declining, there’s plenty of money to spend and they have a terrific combination of front office and manager. Adding Quintana, especially during a low season for him, is about dominating the next few years, not just making a comeback in 2017. Their farm system will need massive rebuilding, but the Cubs aren’t in a position to worry about that right now.