Rick Hahn pulled off two of the most impressive White Sox trades of recent memory within a few days over the winter. Those trades sent Chris Sale and Adam Eaton packing. In return, the White Sox quickly replenished their farm system. Hahn was praised for the talent he was able to bring back in such a short period of time after making the decision to rebuild.
Then Spring Training rolled around, and the ridicule began. He hadn’t traded Jose Quintana yet. Some said he was too stubborn, holding on to his valuable asset for too long rather than completing the fire sale in just three short months. The talk got worse when Quintana struggled out of the gate. Surely they would never get the same value after such a horrendous drop-off in results. How silly those people were to doubt Rick Hahn.
In a shocking move, the White Sox have sent Quintana to the Cubs for Eloy Jimenez, Dylan Cease, Matt Rose, and Bryant Flete. While Quintana will be dearly missed, it’s a huge win for the White Sox. In no way does that mean the Cubs lost, but the White Sox got exactly what they needed. Jimenez was just ranked the eighth best prospect in baseball by our BP Prospect Team. He’s up there because, despite playing in a corner outfield position, his bat is ridiculous. He’s got pop, but he’s managed to keep his strikeout rate at a reasonable level. This year he’s striking out just 20.1 percent of the time in High-A while walking 10.3 percent.
Cease is the other major name in the deal. Cease is best known for being the Cubs best pitching prospect. Well, was best known. In an eyewitness report from this May, each of his four pitches were given an average grade or better. His fastball can reach 96, and it sits in the mid-90’s. He’s got a ways to go, but he’s been striking out batters in Low-A at a 34.7 percent clip. The walk rate of 12.2 percent is a bit of a concern, but it’s no different from a good majority of pitching prospects, especially ones in the White Sox system. Add a little command, and they’ll be well on their way. Cease is considered to have a good chance to start, but that would depend on him adding command and gaining feel for the secondary stuff.
The other two names in the trade are lesser ones. Rose is a first baseman who has hit for some power this season, and Flete is a second baseman who has been OK. Those guys matter less than the two big names, but Rose seems like someone that could gain some steam if things break right. Otherwise, they’ll be the soon forgotten names from a blockbuster trade.
The White Sox now have seven of the top 50 prospects in baseball, including two in the top 10. They hold the number 1, 8, 25, 31, and 42nd best prospects globally. Those players alone would make a tremendous farm system. However, that doesn’t even include names like Zack Collins, Reynaldo Lopez, Luis Robert, Jake Burger, and newly acquired Cease who could all see themselves among the top 101 in baseball before next season. What the front office, and Hahn in particular, has done to rejuvenate this farm system in such a short period of time is nothing short of incredible.
Quintana and Sale are players who are and will be missed dearly. They were the power duo at the top of a rotation that always seemed to put the White Sox just a few steps from contention. Even better, they were mostly homegrown talents that pushed aside the horrible memories of prospects past. What Hahn has been able to turn them into, however, has provided the team with depth better than I’ve ever seen. Over the past five to ten years, looking at even a White Sox top ten prospects list was more frightening than the Babadook. Now they have a system with at least 15 interesting prospects, if not 20 or more. Some of these players will fail, surely, but the White Sox have put themselves in a good position to succeed. Hahn deserves a ton of praise for the trades he’s manufactured; it has put the team in position to compete for many years to come. Goodbye Quintana, you will be missed. Hello Jimenez et. al.
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