Chicago Cubs: 5 moves that made the Cubs afraid to spend in free agency

Chicago Cubs (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Chicago Cubs (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
(Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /

When the Chicago Cubs traded for Jose Quintana, he was coming off a 2016 season in which he pitched over 200 innings and finished with a 3.20 ERA.

The Cubs entered the 2017 season losing just one starter from the 2016 World Series team in Jason Hammel. The team signed Brett Anderson who had an up and down career but was coming off his worst season with the Dodgers. He pitched in just 11.1 innings but carried an 11.91 ERA with four home runs allowed. Anderson had just six starts for the Cubs in 2017 and allowed 20 earned runs to the tune of an 8.18 ERA. If the Cubs wanted to entertain the idea of repeating as World Series champions, they needed to shore up the back end of the rotation.

On July 13, 2017, the Cubs traded top prospects Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease to the White Sox in exchange for Jose Quintana. At the time, it made a lot of sense as Quintana came with an incredibly team friendly contract making approximately $9 million per season. He was also under contract through the 2020 season. Quintana was coming off his best season in 2016 when he pitched 208 innings, had 181 strikeouts and finished with a WAR of 5.0.

In his first start with the Cubs, Quintana was sensational, pitching seven shutout innings while striking out 12 batters in an 8-0 win over the Baltimore Orioles. Quintana would go onto finish the 2017 season with a 4.15 ERA split between both the White Sox and Cubs. His home run per flyball (HR/FB) percentage was the worst of his career at 13.2 percent in 2017 but was still under the major league average of 13.5 percent.

2018 was an opportunity for Quintana to start fresh, while also not having to hear potential trade rumors swirling around him. However, Quintana pitched less than 200 innings for the first time since 2012. His HR/FB percentage was a career-high 14.7 percent while his WAR dropped to just 1.6. He also allowed 25 home runs and 68 walks, both career worsts.

I understand he wasn’t signed as a free agent, but he’s certainly not the player that the Cubs had hoped they would be getting. The trade could end up being costly down the line if Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease become the players they are projected to be.