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White Sox wanted Kris Bryant from Cubs for Chris Sale

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 01: Chicago Cubs' president of baseball operations Theo Epstein looks on before game 6 of the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians on November 1, 2016, at Progressive Field in Cleveland, OH. Chicago defeated Cleveland 9-3. (Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire).
Photo Credit - Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire

On Thursday, the Chicago Cubs acquired left-handed pitcher Jose Quintana in a blockbuster trade with the Chicago White Sox. Few knew whether the scuffling Cubs would be active buyers ahead of the upcoming trade deadline, but this move clearly signals that president Theo Epstein believes his team is capable of still making a run this season.

From the sounds of things, Epstein has been working the phones actively for quite some time. Epstein told reporters that the Cubs called the White Sox last winter to inquire about left-hander Chris Sale. White Sox GM Rick Hahn’s price tag on Sale was understandably high, though, which forced the Cubs to go in a different direction.

There was obviously no way the Cubs were going to part with 25-year-old defending National League MVP Kris Bryant under any circumstances, so the White Sox eventually dealt Sale to the Boston Red Sox for a package of highly-touted prospects instead.

Bryant hasn’t been quite the hitter he was during his MVP campaign, but he has still posted a respectable line of .269/.399/.529 with 18 home runs and 39 runs batted in through the season’s first 82 games.

The Cubs eventually settled on Quintana and parted with two of their very top prospects, Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease, along with two others to make a deal happen. Quintana has struggled a bit this season, but he’s a 28-year-old lefty with a good record that will be under team control for a while. Quintana will be under contract through the 2020 season at a favorable rate of around $10 million per year.

Epstein said that the way the Cubs approach the July 31 trade deadline will depend on how they fare on the field over the next few weeks:

Regardless of whether they ultimately contend this season, Epstein clearly saw the value in adding a long-term piece in Quintana to a rotation that has underwhelmed thus far in 2017.

The defending World Series champs entered the All-Star break with a disappointing record of 43-45. They are currently tied with the St. Louis Cardinals for second place in the NL Central, 5.5 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers. Chicago will open the season’s unofficial second half on Friday in Baltimore.

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