(CBS) While it’s the on-field performance and consistency of left-hander Jose Quintana that obviously made him to the Cubs, it was his contract that also played a pivotal role in them paying what general manager Jed Hoyer himself termed a “high price” in a trade with the White Sox on Thursday.
Quintana is working on one of the most team-friendly contracts in all of baseball, given his standing as a top-of-the-rotation pitcher who has logged 200-plus innings in four straight seasons and boasts a career 3.51 ERA. Quintana is under team control through 2020. He’s making $7 million this season and will make $8.85 million in 2018. The Cubs hold team options on him for $10.5 million in 2019 and $11.5 million in 2020. That’s a financial obligation of around $31 million for 2018 through 2020.
“They were able to ask a lot from teams because of his talent and consistency and also because of that contract,” Hoyer said in an interview with Dan Bernstein and Jason Goff on 670 The Score on Thursday afternoon. “Give Rick Hahn and the White Sox a lot of credit. They did a great contract with Chris Sale, and that helped them get a little bit more in a trade for him. And they did a great contract with Quintana, and that certainly helped get a little bit more in a trade for Quintana. Give their front office credit. You go back a long way to find those deals, but in the end, it’s those really good contracts that show really good foresight that end up netting them a little percentage more in each of those trades because they had such great contracts.
“If we had traded for a young pitcher who was really talented that had a fairly big contract already, that inhibits our ability to do some other things. I think by getting Quintana, not only can we get the contract, but we also have a chance to go out and do some other things, because it gives us the freedom.”
Hoyer’s reference to “freedom” could mean sooner or later when it comes to adding to other parts of the team. The Cubs have discussed adding a veteran catcher after the recent exit of Miguel Montero, with Tigers catcher Alex Avila believed to be one target. Hoyer also acknowledged that the Cubs — like most teams — are always eyeing another “fresh” bullpen arm.
Another area the Cubs like adding to at this time of year every season.
“But now, I think we’ll sit back and watch and see how we play,” Hoyer said. “We’ve played ourselves into a bit of a hole, the way we played in the first half and especially at the end of the first half. We need to play better.”