It was hoped that Quintana would help bring another World Series title to the North Side.
Obviously, that hasn’t happened. Now, that isn’t Quintana’s fault. He’s put together a decent season and a half in blue pinstripes, although his numbers weren’t quite as good as his time on the South Side. He was worth 1.3 bWAR in 2017 for the Cubs and 2.2 bWAR in 2018. This is a marked drop from his White Sox performance, where he put up four full seasons with better bWAR than his 2018 season with the Cubs.
With the Cubs, his walk rate and strikeout rate were both up slightly from his White Sox years, as were his home run rate, ERA and FIP.
This isn’t to say that Quintana isn’t a perfectly serviceable starting pitcher for any major league team.
But I think he might serve the Cubs better if traded.
One of the things that makes him eminently tradeable is his contract, which calls for a $10.5 million team option for 2019 and an $11.5 team option for 2020 ($1 million buyout for each of the two seasons). That’s pretty reasonable money for a pitcher of Q’s caliber for the next two years. The Cubs should exercise at least the 2019 option and then put him on the market.
What would I want in return? Young, controllable bullpen arms who can consistently throw 95+. One guy who would look really good in the Cubs bullpen would be Archie Bradley, who’s been a setup man for the Diamondbacks for the last couple of years. Bradley is 26 and can throw 95+, and could possibly close games in the absence of Brandon Morrow. Perhaps the D-backs have someone in their system they could include in such a trade, too.
There are other teams that could use someone like Quintana; the D-backs are just one example. Perhaps you can come up with a better trade scenario for Q.
Another thing trading Quintana would do is free up $10.5 million from the 2019 payroll. This would go a long way toward the money needed to exercise Cole Hamels’ option. Of course, the Cubs should have that kind of money anyway, and it’s possible they exercise Hamels’ option and then tear it up and offer him a two-year deal for somewhere in the $35 million range.
With the possibility of keeping Hamels, having Drew Smyly available and needing to do something with Tyler Chatwood, the Cubs are going to have extra starting pitchers around for 2019. Why not turn one of them into some bullpen help?