WEDNESDAY: The Pirates have “worked hard” to trade for star White Sox lefty Jose Quintana, ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets. Olney notes that Quintana’s very reasonable contract — which guarantees him a very reasonable $15.85MM over the next two years, plus cheap options or $1M buyouts for 2019 and 2020 — would fit into the budget of the low-revenue Pirates.
The Bucs currently have a very young and unproven rotation behind Gerrit Cole, and Quintana would certainly provide a big boost to a team that could conceivably contend in 2017. Acquiring Quintana, though, would seemingly constitute a significant change in direction for the Pirates, who have spent much of the offseason thus far discussing trades involving star outfielder Andrew McCutchen (who they now appear likely to keep). Adding Quintana, who has pitched over 800 innings in the last four seasons and who had a 3.20 ERA, 7.8 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 while finishing 10th in AL Cy Young voting in 2016, would dramatically increase the Pirates’ chances of making the playoffs next year.
Quintana would come at a significant price in prospects. The White Sox have driven hard bargains so far this offseason in trading Chris Sale and Adam Eaton, and they reportedly asked for top prospects Francis Martes and Kyle Tucker, plus big-leaguer Joe Musgrove, when the Astros called about Quintana. That’s not a wholly unreasonable price for a terrific pitcher with four years of control remaining, particularly given the seemingly seller-friendly market this offseason, but it isn’t cheap, either. The Pirates could conceivably offer top prospects like Austin Meadows, Tyler Glasnow or Mitch Keller in a Quintana trade, although the exact players discussed as they’ve worked to deal with the White Sox remain unknown.