White Sox

Rick Hahn won't lower price on Jose Quintana

Rick Hahn won't lower price on Jose Quintana

Without question, the White Sox would like to trade Jose Quintana before the start of the 2017 regular season.

As much as it would pain them to trade away another outstanding player, completing a deal represents another major step in the direction of a rebuild. Not only would the move fall in line with the team's current plans, trading the All-Star pitcher before Opening Day also relieves the White Sox of any potential risk that could devalue their outstanding asset.

Even though the latest midweek rumor — the Texas Rangers have "increased their pursuit" of Quintana, according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale — has already been downplayed, interest in the left-hander has remained strong throughout the offseason. However, so has the resolve of Rick Hahn, who refuses to budge on Quintana's value. As much as the White Sox general manager wants to strike again, he doesn't plan to budge on demands for Quintana.

"The price isn't going to be lowered unless it serves the greater good of advancing what we're trying to accomplish," Hahn said last Friday on SportsTalkLive. "The only way we're going to move what we feel is an appropriate value on any of our players, especially premium assets who have been the most rumored in recent weeks, is if there's some sort of injury or underperformance or the contractual control significantly changes, like a year from now for example, and therefore the value of what we're trading has changed.

"But based upon what we feel our current players are worth, based on their recent performance, health and control going forward, we're not going to compromise on this."

Hahn knows he still has the best hand and hasn't wavered.

He was in a similar spot two months ago with Chris Sale and Adam Eaton and leveraged them into seven prospects, including four elites in Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech and Reynaldo Lopez. The belief is a trade for Quintana, a first-time All Star in 2016 who produced 18.2 f-WAR from 2013 to 2016, would net something between the two previous deals, which means the White Sox want two elite prospects and a very good third player.

While talks between the White Sox and Houston Astros, Pittsburgh Pirates and a variety of other teams have yielded a number of interesting ideas, the clubs haven't been able to put the finishing touches on any of them.

[SHOP WHITE SOX: Get your White Sox gear right here]

Going back to December, Hahn has publicly expressed desire to get as many deals done as possible. But if there's any frustration from a lack of trades since, Hahn has shown no indication he's ready to back down.

And he shouldn't, either.

With a combination of outstanding results on the field and an exceptional contract — the deal potentially has four years left for $36.85 million — Quintana is the best pitcher readily available now, and that should hold true again at the Aug. 1 nonwaiver trade deadline.

The White Sox certainly would take on more risk the longer they hang on to Quintana as an injury or poor performance could lurk right around the corner. But it's a risk they'll take for several reasons.

First, Quintana is the team's best remaining trade chip, a chance to further improve an already-strong farm system. The team has some nice assets behind Quintana, but he's easily a notch above the rest.

Quintana is also under contract long enough that he likely would have plenty of time to return from a lengthy injury to rebuild his value.

And, because he's under contract for so long, the White Sox hypothetically could also be ready to compete again before Quintana hits free agency. At SoxFest last weekend, Hahn discussed the possibility of spending on free agents in the next few seasons, an indication the White Sox might not think they need a lengthy rebuild. If they kept Quintana — who says he'd like to stay — there's hope within the organization he'd potentially stay with the club beyond 2020.

And even if all of it is posturing and they hold on to Quintana until next offseason, the White Sox could still receive considerable value for him, though Hahn indicated the price would likely change some.

Still, unless they get what they want, Hahn said the White Sox would hold steady.

"We're not going to force that process because of my impatience or because of (Jerry Reinsdorf) or (Kenny Williams') desire to move this along more quickly," Hahn said. "It's got to be about getting value. We held for the right price on Chris. We held for the right price on Adam. We're very pleased with how those deals went. And if there's other subsequent deals between now and the deadline or next offseason, it's going to be we feel we got value for similar type players."

White Sox among a whole bunch of teams reportedly interested in Nathan Eovaldi

White Sox among a whole bunch of teams reportedly interested in Nathan Eovaldi

The White Sox have already been linked to the two biggest names on this winter’s free-agent market, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. And now they’ve been mentioned as one of a host of teams interested in one of the top free-agent starting pitchers, as well.

The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo listed the White Sox as one of the “early suitors” for Nathan Eovaldi. But they’re not at all alone, with Cafardo including the Milwaukee Brewers, Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Angels, Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants as other members of that group.

That’s a lot of competition.

It’s not terribly surprising to hear the White Sox have apparent interest in Eovaldi, as they’ve publicly stated starting pitching as a team need they’ll be addressing this offseason. They have two holes in their 2019 starting rotation thanks to Michael Kopech’s recovery from Tommy John surgery and James Shields’ departure. One way or another, the White Sox will have to fill those holes, though their financial flexibility gives them the option of going with a couple one-year fill-ins and waiting for their young arms to fill out the group in 2020, or adding someone for both the short and long terms.

Eovaldi would fall into the latter category after his breakout second half and postseason with the Red Sox, who acquired him in a midseason trade with the Tampa Bay Rays. After coming to Boston, Eovaldi posted a 3.33 ERA with 48 strikeouts in 54 innings. In the playoffs, he allowed only four earned runs over six appearances totaling 22.1 innings. That postseason run was highlighted by his six innings of one-run ball in the marathon Game 3 of the World Series.

All that success in a Red Sox uniform will likely get him a nice payday this winter, and perhaps that success is why, as Cafardo reported, Eovaldi “would love to stay in Boston.”

But it is worth noting that Eovaldi’s numbers prior to last summer’s trade were not nearly as wonderful. Before he missed the 2017 season while recovering from his second Tommy John surgery, he turned in a 4.42 ERA in 84 appearances, 81 of those starts, from 2014 to 2016 with the Miami Marlins and New York Yankees. His 8.2 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9 were good showings in 2018, but during that three-season stretch, those numbers were 6.8 and 2.5, respectively.

With Eovaldi coming off a career season, however — a season that saw him throw harder than he has at any other point in his career, a Tommy John success story — it’s no shock that interest in high around the league. As is the case with any top free agent, the rebuilding White Sox would likely have to get Eovaldi to buy into planned long-term success versus the ability to win multiple championships right now.

But they’re apparently interested, another potential example of their seeming willingness to land a big fish this offseason.

White Sox free-agent focus: Dallas Keuchel

White Sox free-agent focus: Dallas Keuchel

This week, we’re profiling some of the biggest names on the free-agent market and taking a look at what kind of fits they are for the White Sox.

The White Sox need starting pitching, so why not bring in a guy with a Cy Young Award sitting on his mantle?

Dallas Keuchel is one of the two biggest names on the starting-pitching market this winter, along with Patrick Corbin, who will get more attention — and likely more dollars — because he's two years younger. But Keuchel's the guy with the track record, the AL Cy Young winner in 2015 (when he was also a top-five MVP finisher), a two-time All Star, a four-time Gold Glove winner and the owner of a 3.28 ERA over the past five seasons, during which he helped the Houston Astros transition from rebuilding to one of baseball's perennial contenders. You might have heard something about them winning the World Series in 2017.

It's true that things have been somewhat up and down for Keuchel since his Cy Young win. After posting a 2.48 ERA with a career-high 216 strikeouts in 33 starts during that 2015 season, he had a 4.55 ERA and 144 strikeouts in 26 starts in 2016, then a 2.90 ERA and 125 strikeouts in 23 starts in 2017 and a 3.74 ERA and 153 strikeouts in 34 starts last season. But three times in the last five years he's finished with an ERA under 3.00. In other words, he's pretty darn good.

How might he fit with the White Sox? Well, in terms of whether or not he lines up with their long-term plans. Keuchel's older than Corbin, but it's not like he's old. He'll be 31 on Opening Day 2019, and a long-term deal, which he's expected to fetch, would keep him around for another planned transition from rebuilding to contention. Keuchel — a veteran who's accomplished a lot already, including putting a World Series ring on his finger — could be viewed as a Jon Lester type for these rebuilding White Sox, a big name who buys into the front office's long-term plan and helps make those plans become reality.

And there's no doubt the White Sox are in the market for starting pitching this winter. Michael Kopech is recovering from Tommy John surgery, and the White Sox decided not to pick up James Shields' option for 2019. That leaves two holes in the starting rotation. An addition like Keuchel would be a long-term one, which means the White Sox would opt to make him a safety net for their still-developing fleet of young pitchers and choose not to roll the dice on a homegrown starting staff for 2020. However, if they're confident in a quintet of Kopech, Carlos Rodon, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dylan Cease, then maybe they opt for a couple one-year fill-ins in 2019. Keuchel would not be a one-year fill-in.

Keuchel could also fill the role vacated by Shields, a veteran who could help bring along the young guys in an off-the-field mentor role. His experience going through the dark days of a rebuild — he was a member of Astros teams that lost a combined 310 games from 2012 to 2014 — and coming out the other end a world champ would also figure to be of value.

Of course, the White Sox wouldn't be alone in a pursuit of Keuchel, if they were interested. Thanks to Clayton Kershaw signing a new contract extension with the Los Angeles Dodgers, he's one of the two biggest names on the market when it comes to starting pitchers. The White Sox would likely have to go through the same bidding war and pitch of planned future success they would with other big names like Corbin, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.

But there's no doubt Keuchel would be an upgrade to this rotation in 2019 and could provide plenty of value for years beyond.