Jose Quintana's poor start Tuesday is exactly what Rick Hahn meant when he discussed the different risk assessments factored into holding onto the pitcher.
A 6-3 loser to the Detroit Tigers in front of an announced 36,534 at Guaranteed Rate Field, the White Sox are particularly keen on what potential hazards exist now that they've taken Quintana — the most rumored player of the offseason not to have been dealt — into the season. Quintana matched a career-worst in his first Opening Day start when he allowed three home runs in 5 1/3 innings in a duel against Justin Verlander.
Even though it wasn't Quintana's finest showing, the White Sox feel more than confident that enduring those perils will be worth it in the end — that some contender will reward them with a cache of prospects for their patience.
"Now that we have entered into the season, you are carrying a little bit different amount of risk on certain players that conceivably you could have moved and cashed in for whatever value they had at the time," Hahn said Monday. "Again, nothing presented itself that made it feel like ‘Well, there's gonna be some added risk once the season starts so therefore we'd better move now.' It just wasn't that close to getting anything done. We've had our conversations over the past few months. We've been prepared to enter the season."
The White Sox got paid handsomely in the trades for Chris Sale and Adam Eaton.
They expect the same if they decide to deal Quintana, a first-time All-Star in 2016.
The White Sox would love to deal their ace. Their goal is to accumulate as much young talent as quickly as possible. Moving Quintana would push them further along a road they've been on since the trades of Sale and Eaton in December.
But the White Sox don't intend to budge on their price. They know what they want in return for Quintana, who entered Tuesday having produced 18.1 f-Wins Above Replacement the past four seasons, the seventh-most in the majors. While they may consider giving in a little, Hahn said no offer has come close.
Until they do, the White Sox will retain Quintana, who has options that keep him under team control through 2020. That means Quintana will continue to live life in limbo.
His first game in the precarious state wasn't near to the standard he's produced in the past.
Detroit took advantage of a hit batsmen and a walk by Quintana in a five-run second inning. He yielded a leadoff single to Justin Upton and hit Mikie Mahtook. One out later, JaCoby Jones hit a 2-2 curveball that caught too much of the plate for a three-run homer and a 3-1 Detroit lead.
Quintana walked Ian Kinsler with two outs before Nick Castellanos hammered a 92-mph fastball the opposite way for a two-run shot.
Kinsler also blasted a solo shot off Quintana with two outs in the fourth. Quintana previously allowed three homers in a start twice last season and twice in 2013. He gave up six earned runs and five hits in 5 1/3 innings.
"Chalk it up to an anomaly," manager Rick Renteria said.
The effort was no match for Verlander, who struck out 10 in 6 1/3 innings and limited the White Sox to two runs as he overpowered them with his fastball.
The White Sox have to believe Tuesday is more an outlier than a sign Quintana can't handle the stress of his situation. He addressed the trade rumors yet again on Sunday before talking about his first Opening Day start.
"I know there are rumors but I just focus on doing my job," Quintana said. "There's nothing I can do. Help my team when I can and that's it.
"(The offseason) was a little different this year from the rumors. But it stayed the same, I never changed, I never paid any attention to that.
"My future is here. I have to just control this year. I pay attention to right now."
The White Sox are gambling on that focus. They've seen how Quintana has been unflappable throughout his career, dealing with a lack of run support and the misfortune that comes with it.
They also believe in their own abilities to keep players healthy. Over the years, the White Sox have been far and away the healthiest team in baseball.
Lastly, with Quintana under contract potentially through 2020 for $36.85 million, the White Sox know how valuable of an asset they possess.
Until they get paid, the White Sox plan to persist — even if it's a risk.
"We really haven't been presented with anything in recent months that's even been close to feeling like this is something we should do," Hahn said. "Again, we have to be strong and keep that sort of long-term focus. That's where the fruit of these labors will pay off."