Though the Rangers supposedly renewed interest in White Sox lefty Jose Quintana has already been largely shot down by the Dallas/Fort Worth media, general interest in the 28-year-old lefty “has remained strong throughout the offseason,” writes Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago. The Sox would prefer to trade Quintana prior to Opening Day so as not to risk any scenario in which his value deteriorates, per Hayes, but GM Rick Hahn has steadfastly refused to drop his asking price.
On a related note, Astros owner Jim Crane suggests to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale that commissioner Rob Manfred’s decision to award the Astros the top two picks remaining in the Cardinals’ draft (following the infamous Ground Control data breach scandal) could impact Houston’s willingness to part with young talent in trades.
“We’re hoping something will break,” Crane tells Nightengale. “It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that … getting two picks from the Cardinals gives us more depth in the system. We’re still looking into it. The thing about pitching is that it keeps games under control. And you got to have someone who can slam that door.”
Chicago reportedly asked the Astros for a package including young right-hander Joe Musgrove and top prospects Francis Martes and Kyle Tucker when the two sides last engaged in serious Quintana talks, and that package was deemed too steep by Houston. Musgrove, after all, made his big league debut at age 23 last year and threw 62 solid innings with a 4.06 ERA, 8.0 K/9, 2.3 BB/9 and a 43.4 percent ground-ball rate. He’d be controllable for at least another six seasons and possibly seven, depending on how much service time he accumulates in 2017. Martes and Tucker, meanwhile, are considered two of Houston’s best prospects and both ranked within the game’s top 35 prospect in MLB.com’s recent rankings. (Both were within the top 60 on this week’s top 100 rankings from ESPN’s Keith Law, as well.)
While the extra draft picks do give the Astros a quicker avenue to replace some of the talent they’d lose in a theoretical Quintana trade, it does seem somewhat unlikely that the addition of two new draft selections will prompt GM Jeff Luhnow to part with Musgrove, Martes and Tucker. That doesn’t mean, of course, that the two sides can’t find an alternative package, but as Hayes notes, Hahn flatly said, “…we’re not going to compromise on this,” on CSN’s SportsTalk Live last week when asked about the asking price on his remaining trade assets. Per Hayes, there’s a belief that the Sox are looking for two elite prospects and a high-quality third piece, which would align with the reported initial proposal to Houston.
As has been mentioned on numerous occasions in the past, the White Sox aren’t necessarily under any sort of deadline to move Quintana. The lefty has four years of club control remaining at an eminently affordable total of $36.85MM. Only two of those seasons and a total of $16.85MM are guaranteed to Quintana, with the remainder coming via club options, further enhancing his appeal. So long as he remains healthy, Quintana will carry enormous value at any point in the next several seasons — particularly come this summer’s trade deadline. But even if he spends a full season with the Sox, Quintana would carry significant value next winter, when he could be controlled for another three years at a total of $29.85MM.