Injury Prevention

The Cubs pulled off a big trade with their cross town “rivals” the White Sox, dealing four prospects for Jose Quintana. Quintana is a big upgrade to a staff that has underperformed, but the key to this deal might be how good the White Sox are at injury prevention.

For the decade-plus that injuries have been tracked accurately, the White Sox have always been at the top of the organizational rankings in terms of days lost and dollars lost to the DL. Beyond this, Herm Schneider and his staff have always been good at injury prevention and management for pitchers, even ones with issues.

Just take a look at Chris Sale. Drafted out of Florida Gulf Coast, Sale’s body type and angular delivery worried a lot of teams and rightly so. Sale has had some shoulder and elbow problems, even leading some to suggest that he should be shifted to the bullpen. Instead, the White Sox kept Sale healthy, finding a way to keep him in the game despite the limitations. He not only pitched well for them, he became the key part in a minor league rebuild and has remained one of the top pitchers in the game since going to the Red Sox, a team that’s … let’s say less successful at injury prevention than most.

The same holds true for Carlos Rodon, now the ace of the White Sox staff. An organization like the Sox could take a risk on Rodon, knowing how good they were at injury prevention. That let them take on a talented but risky pitcher like Rodon and gives insight into how the talent has shown more than the risk while he’s been with the team.

For the Cubs, we have to take a look beyond the obvious in order to make this make sense. Four top prospects, including Eloy Jimenez, one of the top ten prospects in the game, might seem a steep price – and it is – but Quintana is one of few pitchers on the market that could make a difference.

We have to wonder if the Cubs are taking a look at injury prevention as well. Quintana has been a very healthy pitcher, in part because he’s been with the White Sox, but Mark O’Neal’s staff on the north side should be able to hold things together.

The bigger question is Dylan Cease. Any young pitcher is a risky investment, but the Cubs may feel like they can’t take the risk on injury prevention at a time where they need the help now. If they don’t like what they project from Cease, it’s a perfect time and return to move him. Moreover, the White Sox may feel that they can do more with a risky but talented pitcher like Cease.

The White Sox add to their prospect haul that they’ve pulled in with several trades. By the time players like Cease, Jimenez, Moncada, and Kopech hit the major leagues, maybe the White Sox will be ready to be true rivals to the Cubs again. If so, one of the key reasons will be the White Sox ability to prevent injuries and keep their players on the field.