The White Sox have maintained daily trade talks centering around ace Jose Quintana, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links). The Astros, Pirates and, to a much lesser extent, the Yankees remain involved in talks, though the Yankees are less willing than other interested suitors to part with the requisite prospects to pull off a Quintana deal. Rosenthal characterizes the Yanks as a “long shot,” noting that the White Sox are steadfast in their asking price on Quintana and could look to move him at the deadline if no suitable offer arises this winter. Other teams could be in the mix as well, he further adds.
Earlier today, ESPN’s Buster Olney suggested that the White Sox would like any trade for Quintana to be completed before Spring Training opens, though Quintana’s excellence and favorable contract would allow him to be traded at virtually any point during the calendar year so long as he’s healthy.
Both the Astros and Pirates have long been rumored as potential suitors for Quintana, though to this point neither club has been willing to meet Chicago’s understandably lofty asking price for the second of its prized top-of-the-rotation southpaws. (Chris Sale, of course, has already been dealt to Boston.) The White Sox reportedly asked the Astros for 24-year-old right-hander Joe Musgrove (who was solid in a 69-inning MLB debut last year) and the team’s top two prospects, righty Francis Martes and outfielder Kyle Tucker, in exchange for Quintana last month.
It’s not clear precisely what the Sox have asked of the Pirates to this point, though one can imagine top prospects like Austin Meadows and Mitch Keller have come up in trade talks. Young, potentially MLB-ready assets like Josh Bell and Tyler Glasnow, each of whom rated as a top 50 prospect before debuting in the Majors last year, also figure to hold plenty of appeal to the rebuilding Pale Hose.
Rosenthal adds in a third tweet that if the White Sox are able to find a palatable offer for their top remaining starter, then they could look to add a veteran pitcher on a one-year deal to help round out the rotation and mentor some of the organization’s young arms. Chicago already went down that road once by buying low on longtime Rangers lefty Derek Holland following the trade of Sale, and a similar move would seem prudent in the event that Quintana moves as well. Adding a veteran starter would prevent the Sox from feeling the need to rush a top pitching prospect like Lucas Giolito or Reynaldo Lopez to the Majors, and any veteran that performs well on a short-term pact could become a trade commodity this summer once contending clubs look to augment their starting rotations.
Quintana won’t turn 28 until later this month and is controlled for another four seasons at an eminently affordable total of $37.85MM. Better yet, only two of those seasons are guaranteed (at a total of $16.85MM), so if Quintana does suffer a disastrous injury or experience a stunning downturn in productivity, the financial commitment is even more manageable. That, of course, seems decidedly unlikely. Quintana is still in the midst of his prime and has been one of the game’s best performers on the mound across the past several seasons. He’s turned in four straight seasons of at least 200 innings, combining for a 3.35 ERA with 7.7 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 and a 43.7 percent ground-ball rate in 814 2/3 frames — numbers that are all the more impressive when considering his hitter-friendly home environment and the poor defenses that the White Sox have deployed in recent years.