8:34pm: The Astros did, in fact, talk to the White Sox about Quintana, but have found the White Sox’ price to be too steep, Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle writes. Kaplan notes that it’s unclear whether the Astros would have to give up Bregman to get Quintana, but notes that he doesn’t want to part with players who could help the Astros next season. “We’re just not prepared to trade away players that are core to our production in 2017, and those are sometimes the players that are required to get these deals done,” says GM Jeff Luhnow.
The Braves also asked about Quintana and thought the White Sox’ price was too high, writes David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The problem seems to be that the Braves don’t feel Quintana is as valuable as Sale was, even though Quintana is controllable for an extra year. “We don’t have needs in starting pitching,” says GM John Coppolella. “Do we want a No. 1 starter, is Chris Sale a No. 1 starter? Yes. Do we want Jose Quintana? I don’t think Jose Quintana is Chris Sale.”
8:51am: A day after trading Chris Sale to the Red Sox, the White Sox are now “in serious talks” with multiple teams about their other star left-hander Jose Quintana, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports (Twitter link). The Astros and Nationals are two of the clubs involved in discussions.
The Astros were rumored to have interest in Sale, but Houston’s refusal to include Alex Bregman in any trade likely removed them from the bidding, given how Chicago was looking for only elite prospects for Sale (like maybe the game’s best prospect in Yoan Moncada). The White Sox undoubtedly want quite a bit for Quintana as well, though their demands could be closer to the Astros’ comfort zone.
Houston has heavily bolstered its lineup this offseason with the additions of Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann and Josh Reddick, though Charlie Morton has been the only new face brought into a rotation that fell short of expectations in 2016. The Astros have been creatively both shopping starters (Mike Fiers and Collin McHugh) while also looking at upgrades; in particular, Houston has often been linked to the Rays’ pitchers in trade talks, even dating back to last summer’s trade deadline.
The Nationals’ interest in Quintana is a bit harder to gauge. While Nightengale and FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman have both reported that the Nats were in on Quintana, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal and the Washington Post’s Chelsea Janes have reported that Washington was only specifically interested in Sale, not in any other starting pitchers. While the Nationals have a very good rotation already, Quintana (and his team-friendly contract that is extendable through 2020) could still be an upgrade. Stephen Strasburg can opt out of his deal after the 2019 season, Gio Gonzalez is only controllable via a club option through 2018 and the Nats might simply see Quintana as a more proven commodity than youngster Joe Ross. In fact, a controllable young starter like Ross would be a potential fit for a Quintana trade package.
While often overshadowed by Sale in Chicago, Quintana has rather quietly been a very durable and effective pitcher over his five years with the White Sox. Quintana has a 3.41 ERA, 3.20 K/BB rate, 7.4 K/9 over 951 career innings, and over the last four seasons, he has generated 18.2 fWAR and averaged 204 innings per year. An early-career extension has made Quintana even more of a valuable commodity, as he is owed just $14.35MM through 2018, plus $10.5MM club options for both 2019 and 2020 (with $1MM buyouts in each year).