The Cubs made one of the first big pre-trade deadline deals on Thursday, shipping four prospects across town to the White Sox for starting pitcher Jose Quintana.
Quintana was one of the big-name pitchers widely-known to be on the block, as the White Sox (38-49) look to unload some of their more valuable pieces to help rebuild the roster.
It was a tough start to the season for Quintana, who went 2-7 through his first 11 starts, but he's bounced back nicely, posting a 2-1 mark with a 2.70 ERA over his last seven starts -- helping boost his value as the non-waivers trade deadline approaches at the end of the month.
That recent success for Quintana drove the price up for the Cubs.
The defending champs gave up top prospects Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease in the package, both of whom are ranked in the Midseason Baseball America Top 100 list of prospects.
The Cubs, currently sitting at 43-45 and in second place in the NL Central -- 5.5 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers, have struggled to find consistency from their pitching staff all season. Jake Arrieta has a disappointing 4.25 ERA, while Jon Lester's sits at 4.35 heading into the second half of the season.
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Cubs GM Theo Epstein hopes the addition of Quintana gives them another consistent arm that will lead to a second-half surge, but Stephen Oh's SportsLine Projection Model predicts only modest improvement for Chicago.
Oh's projections have the Cubs improving by less than one win with Quintana, jumping up from 82.2 wins to 83.1. Their playoff chances look a bit more favorable, however, as they go from 29.8 to 34.5 percent.
It's an understandable move for a team in danger of following up a historic championship season with a no-show in the playoffs, but these small projected gains came at a hefty price. If it does end up being enough to push Chicago into the postseason, it will be worth it, however.
The Cubs know better than anybody that a hot pitching staff can lead to huge results come October.