Cubs exercise club option on Quintana for '19
Kintzler returning next season; Chicago claims Vasto off waivers
CHICAGO -- The Cubs secured one more member of their starting rotation on Wednesday by exercising the $10.5 million club option on Jose Quintana. They have until the end of the week to decide whether to pick up Cole Hamels' $20 million team option.
Quintana joins starters Jonathan Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Yu Darvish and Tyler Chatwood, who are under control for next season. Hamels, who was 4-3 with a 2.36 ERA in 12 starts with the Cubs, would give the rotation a huge boost and one more item to check off on the team's offseason wish list. If Chicago declines his option, the Rangers would pay Hamels a $6 million buyout.
Having enough pitching is a goal for the 2019 season, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said.
"We're set up to have some depth in the starting staff next year," Epstein said at his end of the season wrapup. "We're not looking to get rid of starting pitchers. We're looking to have as much depth as possible so we can withstand multiple injuries."
Quintana, who turns 30 in January, went 13-11 with a 4.03 ERA in 32 starts in his first full season with the Cubs. He reached 32 starts for the sixth season in a row and he matched his career high in wins.
Not only is Quintana an affordable option for the Cubs now but his contract includes a $10.5 million club option for 2020.
On Wednesday, the Cubs also claimed left-handed pitcher Jerry Vasto off waivers from the Royals and will welcome back reliever Brandon Kintzler, who will exercise his $5 million player option. The Cubs declined a $10 million team option on the right-hander for next season.
Kintzler, who was acquired from the Nationals on July 31, posted a 7.00 ERA over 18 innings in 25 games with the Cubs, giving up 14 earned runs on 27 hits and nine walks. He began the season with a 3.59 ERA in 45 games with Washington. The former Twins closer has a career 3.48 ERA over nine seasons, beginning with the Brewers in 2010.
The Cubs' relievers did post the top ERA in the National League last season (3.35), but manager Joe Maddon had to plug in different pitchers to close games in place of Brandon Morrow, who was sidelined with a bone bruise. They had hoped Kintzler would help fill in for Morrow.
So far, relievers Morrow, C.J. Edwards, Steve Cishek and Brian Duensing are under contract for 2019. The Cubs have to make a decision by the end of the week on whether to pick up the $6.25 million team option on Pedro Strop as well.
Vasto, 26, is 12-12 with 26 saves and a 3.79 ERA in 180 Minor League relief appearances over five seasons with the Rockies and Royals organizations. He made his Major League debut in 2018 -- pitching in the Majors with both clubs. Vasto gave up four earned runs over 4 1/3 innings in six relief outings. Last season at Triple-A, he had a 3.08 ERA in 38 appearances.
With the moves, the Cubs' 40-man roster stands at 35.