Stearns keeps focus on Crew after CHC trade
MILWAUKEE -- After watching the Cubs make a big splash Thursday with a trade for Jose Quintana, Brewers general manager David Stearns said he wouldn't fall into the trap of trying to match Chicago move-for-move as the teams head down the stretch in the National League Central.
"I think that can be a little bit dangerous," Stearns said. "I think we have to make moves that make the most sense for our franchise. That's regardless of what a particular rival is doing. Obviously, the Cubs improved their starting pitching today. We're aware of that, and because of that, they will be a more formidable team going forward throughout the second half."
The Cubs will be playing catchup after the Brewers went 50-41 for a 5 1/2-game division lead over second-place Chicago and St. Louis. The next meeting between the Brewers and Cubs is July 28-30 at Miller Park.
"I don't know how many people would have believed it, but here we are," said third baseman Travis Shaw.
Shaw has faced Quintana the most of any Brewers hitter, going 1-for-7 with a strikeout. He's seen Quintana's numbers this season and knows they are slightly down, but said, "That's a big addition for the Cubs."
"There's more pressure on them than on us right now," Shaw said. "They're the defending champions. We weren't supposed to be here, so we're kind of playing with house money right now. At the same time, with a 5 1/2-game lead, we expect to keep that position and finish like we are right now."
What did Brewers manager Craig Counsell think when he saw news that the Cubs had acquired Quintana?
"I mean, that's what happens this time of year," Counsell said. "Teams trade for other teams' good players. That's part of it and that's expected. It's not surprising. It's part of the competition and we know that."
Quintana was at least a player of interest to the Brewers as well. Stearns declined to say how deeply the Brewers were engaged with the White Sox, "other than to say we do our work on every player who is potentially available who could be a fit."
Quintana would have fit in nicely. He's left-handed, durable (200-plus innings with sub-4.00 ERAs in each of the last four seasons) and -- notably -- he is controllable at a reasonable price. Quintana is signed through next season with club options for 2019 and '20.
But he came at a price. The Cubs gave up prospect Eloy Jimenez and top pitching prospect Dylan Cease, plus two other Minor Leaguers in the deal. Jimenez was ranked eighth and Cease 63rd on MLBPipeline.com's list of baseball's top prospects, so the deal was the equivalent of the Brewers parting with top prospecy Lewis Brinson (No. 13 overall) and right-hander Luis Ortiz (No. 51), plus others.
"I think the Cubs are doing what they think they need to do to improve their team, and obviously we're going to continue to look at the market and see if there is a fit for us down the road," Stearns said. "The price of poker is expensive. The Cubs gave up some really good players, and in exchange they got a starting pitcher who is going to be in the rotation for the foreseeable future. Those types of trades generally cost a lot.
"We've worked very hard to build our organization and our system as a whole to where it is, and to have the level of talent we have throughout the organization is a good place to be. I don't see us, whether it's this year or in any year going forward, moving on from that strategy. I think that's a strategy that is going to prove successful for us. Maintaining that consistent pipeline of young talent is important."