The history of trades between the two Chicago teams is short and light on blockbusters—until now.
Thursday's big trade of Jose Quintana from the White Sox to the Cubs for a four-player package that includes two top prospects isn't just a blockbuster that alters the landscape of the National League playoff race. It's also an unexpected move between two crosstown rivals: the first trade between the South Siders and North Siders since 2006.
Deals between the Cubs and White Sox are relatively uncommon. That 2006 trade—which sent reliever Neal Cotts to the North Side for reliever David Aardsma and pitching prospect Carlos Vasquez—was the first between the two teams since 1998, and only the third since '92. All told, both franchises have combined for only 27 trades since 1946 (including today's Quintana swap). Note that only 15 of those, however, have involved player-for-player exchanges; the other 12 were cash purchases.
What also makes this deal special is that this is one of the few times an established star in the prime of his career has gone from one team to the other. The 1992 trade that sent All-Star outfielder George Bell to the White Sox in exchange for a free-swinging Dominican prospect named Sammy Sosa ended up being a franchise-changer going forward, but at the time, it had little impact, as Bell was nearing the end of his career; he turned in a pair of forgettable seasons in Comiskey Park before retiring. Sosa, meanwhile, was far from a known quantity, and it took him a few years (and some other stuff) to find his stroke in Wrigley.
In a similar vein, in 1973, the Cubs dealt future Hall of Famer Ron Santo to the White Sox after his ninth and final All-Star season (and 14th overall), but as bizarre as the sight of one of the Cubs' franchise heroes playing in pinstripes might have looked, it didn't last long: The veteran third baseman played only one year (and a poor one at that) for his new team before calling it quits. At least the White Sox didn't give up anything of value in that deal; the most notable name sent to the Cubs was catcher Steve Swisher, best known as the father of future big leaguer Nick.
Beyond those two trades, the swaps between the two teams have been full of forgettable players and little production. Names like Steve Trout, Pat Tabler, Bill Long and Larry Anderson may look familiar to those who have every Topps set from 1977 to '90, but over the last 70 years, the Cubs and White Sox haven't exactly made much news with their rare deals.
All told, the history of trades between the Cubs and White Sox isn't very deep and hasn't had much sizzle, making the Quintana deal that much more notable. Only time will tell how it plays out for both sides, but if nothing else, it's a neat bit of history for Chicago's two teams.