Trade deadline season officially began on Thursday when the Chicago White Sox dealt left-hander Jose Quintana to the Chicago Cubs for a package of four prospects, headlined by outfielder Eloy Jimenez.
It was the first of what’s likely to be many trades leading up to the July 31 deadline — with starting pitching the commodity in greatest demand.
The move gives the defending World Series champs some stability in the rotation, which has gone from the best in baseball in 2016 (2.96 ERA) to No. 17 (4.66) over the first half of this season.
Quintana has four consecutive seasons of at least 200 innings and a career ERA of 3.51.
The 28-year-old currently sports a career-worst 4.49 ERA in 18 starts, but he’s pitched better than the numbers indicate. Quintana has 109 strikeouts in 104 1/3 innings (a career-high 9.4 K/9 rate).
Over his last seven starts, he’s posted a 2.70 ERA and held hitters to a .213/.289/.333 slash line. So fantasy owners shouldn’t be alarmed at his 4-8 record.
In addition, Quintana is under contract through 2018, with a pair of team options for 2019 and 2020 — which explains why the Cubs gave up so much to get him. (Jake Arrieta will be a free agent this winter.)
The left-hander won’t really be impacted by the change in home parks — both tilt slightly toward hitters — but his ratios will definitely benefit by the move from the American League to the National League.
In NL-only leagues, Quintana will be one of this season’s best players to come over from the AL, so be prepared to spend a major portion of your FAAB budget to land him. In leagues with waiver priority, he’s definitely worth using the No. 1 pick.
White Sox impact
This looks like yet another masterstroke by GM Rick Hahn in his efforts to rebuild the Chisox through the farm system.
Jimenez, 20, first gained national attention at the 2016 All-Star Futures Game, when he homered and made a spectacular running catch.
Last season at Class A, he hit .329 with 14 homers, 40 doubles, 81 RBI and led the pitcher-friendly Midwest League with .901 OPS – at age 19.
As a result, we ranked Jimenez as our No. 5 fantasy baseball prospect entering 2017.
This season, he’s hit .271/.351/.490 with eight homers and 32 RBI in 42 games at High-A Myrtle Beach (S.C.), despite being 2.6 years younger than the average player at his level.
The White Sox also added one of the Cubs’ top pitching prospects in 21-year-old Dylan Cease.
At Low-A South Bend (Ind.), Cease has a 2.79 ERA in 51 2/3 innings, with 74 strikeouts (13.0 K/9) and 26 walks (4.6 BB/9).
After acquiring the likes of Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, Lucas Giolito and signing top international player Luis Robert, the White Sox have an extremely intriguing group of youngsters in the farm system.