The Cubs just got better, but at a price. And it's worth it.

I cringe at the loss of mega-prospect Eloy Jiminez and possible future ace Dylan Cease, and I wonder whether Jose Quintana is going to be enough to put my Cubs over the top in their quest to repeat as world champions. I think they're going to need one more starting pitcher, which means one more trade, and right now third baseman Jeimer Candelario is the only top-five prospect they have at any position. I question what he would bring in a trade.

Of course, Jiminez had no future with the Cubs, who apparently are committed to Schwarber in left field despite his huge defensive downside. And it's hard to see Candelario displacing Kris Bryant. We'll see what Jedstein has in store but at the very least the Quintana trade puts us in good shape looking to 2018. That's especially the case since Quintana's contract- a big enough consideration that one writer said that it was nearly the equivalent of the Cubs getting another player- keeps him locked in at a reasonable price through the start of the next decade. The Cubs will be in the hunt for an ace in the free agent market and given Quintana's contract and what they'll save in letting Jake Arrieta walk they'll be in a position to spend the bucks. So the chief comfort of our sub-par year in 2017 thus far remains: we'll certainly be back in 2018, perhaps with even a stronger squad than last year's.

Of course, the Astros and Dodgers and D'backs and Nats will, too.

This year, I think we're still in the hunt. Starting next week we have a string of games which may be crucial: Cardinals, Cardinals, Cardinals, Sox, Sox, Sox, Sox, Brewers, Brewers, Brewers.  And July 31 will bring the trade deadline and an almost definitive end to the window for getting better personnel-wise. So by August 1, we may well know what our prospects are for coming back.

Right now, I'm cautiously optimistic. The bats are coming around, Hendricks will be back, and Quintana will be a definite improvement in the rotation over Montgomery, Anderson, or Butler. And I think when the chips are down this team will find a way to be motivated. The clubhouse psychology seems to be off this year; at least that's the most common explanation for the mediocre first half for this ridiculously talented ballclub. So if we don't repeat, winning two years out of three is still a pretty good prospect.

The Sox, meanwhile, probably have the best farm system in baseball after this trade. That team is going to be a beast in the 2020's and Sox fans, who are mostly insufferable even when their team is bad, are going to be impossible to live with. Hopefully, Theo will stick around and build on the winning culture he's established on the North Side. We still have our defeat at the hands of the Pale Hose in the 1906 World Series to avenge, and I wouldn't be a bit surprised if we get the chance not too long from now.

Photo by Joe Bielawa on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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