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Phone call at All-Star fan convention helped Jose Quintana trade progress

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn was at the All-Star Game FanFest on Tuesday with his younger son when Cubs President Theo Epstein called.

Hahn, knowing the call was about the most anticipated trade in Chicago baseball this season, ducked behind an exhibit to talk specifics.

If only the exhibits had ears, the blockbuster trade might have been scooped before the Cubs and Sox issued the shocking announcements Thursday, though a pair of Reddit users apparently put the rumor out there Wednesday night. The Sox sent left-hander Jose Quintana to the Cubs for prospects Eloy Jimenez, Dylan Cease, Matt Rose and Bryant Flete.

The initiation of the deal came Sunday, when Hahn texted Epstein to let him know the negotiations for Quintana were likely to come to a head over the next few days. Hahn said he was direct that the deal had to begin with Jimenez and Cease.

"If they were interested, then now was the time to engage," Hahn said.

The pair reconnected Monday, spoke Tuesday about the Cubs' willingness to include their top two prospects and texted throughout the All-Star Game to figure out the final two pieces of the deal. It was finalized Wednesday night and announced Thursday morning.

It put to end seven months of speculation about where Quintana might end up.

Hahn said there were other deals for Quintana close in December, but they fell through. He also said the interest remained "very strong" through Wednesday, and the Sox were even in negotiations with a different team Saturday that prompted them to consider scratching Quintana for his final start before the All-Star break against the Rockies. But it wasn't close enough to pull him out.

Then the Cubs deal was finalized.

"In our opinion, in retrospect, this deal trumps anything we discussed last offseason," Hahn said.

Hahn said earlier this season that he was willing to do business with the Cubs, but speculation continued that he really wouldn't deal with the crosstown rival. Hahn said Thursday he found it "somewhat laughable" that the Sox would let such a deal lapse because of an interleague, intra-city rivalry.

"If we really felt motivated to take an inferior baseball deal, to not put this organization in the best possible spot to win multiple championships simply because of emotion, then we would be the wrong people running this club," Hahn said.

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