While much of the baseball world focused on whether or not Clayton Kershaw would opt out of the final two years of his contract, the Chicago Cubs picked up the option on their own left-hander, Jose Quintana, keeping him in the fold for next season.
Prior to the 2014 season, Jose Quintana signed a five-year contract with the Chicago White Sox, worth $26.5 million. The deal included option years for both 2019 and 2020, which are worth $10.5 and $11.5 million, respectively.
Over the course of his career, Quintana has made 215 starts, making 30 or more starts in six straight seasons. That’s every season of his career minus his rookie year, where he still made 22 starts. That being said, 2018, his first full season with the Cubs was a down year by most standards.
He pitched to a 4.03 ERA in just 174 1/3 innings, the lowest total of his career, striking out just 158, giving up a career-high 25 home runs. Going into 2018, Quintana had pitched 200-plus innings every year, before falling to 188 1/3 in 2017.
Will Quintana step up as an ace?
The biggest reason for his 2018 disappintments has to be the walks. He averaged 3.5 walks per nine this year, up from his career average of 2.6. His strikeout rate in 2018 was 8.2 per nine, which is also slightly up from his 7.8 K/9 average. Quintana was throwing a lot of pitches in games because of this, not allowing him to work deep into ballgames.
The veteran left-hander has had a very well-traveled career. He originally signed with the Mets back in 2006, before being released after violating the drug policy. In 2008, he signed with the Yankees and pitched four years in their system, never making it past High-A ball.
As a minor league free agent in 2011, he signed with the White Sox and was finally able to take the next step in his career.
He got to the big leagues almost immediately in 2012 and has been a rotation mainstay ever since. He pitched for the White Sox until July 2017, when he was traded to his crosstown rival, the Chicago Cubs, for standout prospects Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease, with Matt Rose and Bryant Flete added in the deal as well.
With the Cubs, it’s no secret Quintana’s time has not been ace-like, which is what the Cubs had anticipated. But after exercising their 2019 team option, maybe that will give him some newfound confidence and he can go out and dominate hitters once more.