(670 The Score) When Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein struck a major crosstown deal with the White Sox to acquire left-hander Jose Quintana last June, he spoke of the benefit to adding not only a quality pitcher but also a team-friendly contract.
There was more to it, and that context is available now after the Cubs introduced right-hander Yu Darvish in Mesa, Arizona on Tuesday after signing him to a six-year, $126-million deal. Quintana is owed about $31 million over the next three years.
“When we acquired Jose Quintana, we made the point then that acquiring him with the great contract he had might allow us at some point to bring another pitcher with him,” Epstein said at the Cubs’ spring training home in Mesa on Tuesday. “We almost felt like we were acquiring one-and-a-half pitchers in that deal, because it would go halfway toward acquiring someone else. I think today is that day when you bring in a Yu Darvish.”
To get Quintana, Epstein and the Cubs traded a haul to the White Sox that was headlined by prized prospect Eloy Jimenez. Nearly eight months later, the Cubs landed Darvish after a long offseason pursuit in a stagnant free-agent market. Darvish was atop the team’s wish list as soon as the offseason opened, though his addition didn’t become realistic until the market played out a bit and the Cubs filled other needs. The Cubs also showed interest in Alex Cobb, who remains a free agent.
With the addition of Darvish and also right-hander Tyler Chatwood to a three-year, $38-million deal in December, the Cubs have their pitching staff under club control through 2020. Their starting five will feature Jon Lester, Darvish, Kyle Hendricks, Quintana and Chatwood in some order.
Epstein has secured a pitching staff through alternate means to put around a young core of position players who were largely acquired through the draft in the rebuild.
“What a pitching staff to be able to put with this position player group,” Epstein said. “We’re just happy where we are as an organization right now and the resources we’ve been given to make the most of it. We got to go out and do it.”