Recent reports suggest the prospect-hungry White Sox received a recent inquiry from the New York Yankees about the availability of All-Star pitcher Jose Quintana.
According to one analyst, there’s nobody that general manager Rick Hahn would rather hear from than Yankees counterpart Brian Cashman when it comes to the possibility of trading Quintana, who is affordably signed through 2020 and has produced 18.1 Wins Above Replacement the past four seasons, according to fangraphs.com. Not only might the Yankees need Quintana now more than ever, MLB.com’s Jim Callis opines, they possess the top farm system in baseball and could absorb the high cost.
A first-time All-Star in 2016, Quintana has received similar hot stove attention to Chris Sale and Adam Eaton, each of whom was included in a blockbuster trade at the Winter Meetings earlier this month. The Houston Astros and Pittsburgh Pirates have also reportedly shown interest in Quintana, one of baseball’s most productive starting pitchers over the past four seasons. Set to earn $36.85 million through 2020 if both his team options are exercised, Quintana could be worth as much as Sale.
While Callis said on CSNChicago.com’s most recent White Sox Talk podcast that he isn’t certain New York would part with shortstop Gleyber Torres, the club has three other top prospects (all are ranked in the Top 22 on MLB.com’s current top 100) around which to build a package.
“If I’m Rick Hahn, I want to be talking to Brian Cashman about Jose Quintana,” Callis said. “That would be the No. 1 team to matchup with because of need, desperation, value prospects they have. You could make a really nice deal there.”
The White Sox have already done extremely well with the returns for Sale and Eaton, who brought back seven prospects, including four currently ranked in MLB.com’s Top 30 (Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Michael Kopech).
Though he doesn’t possess the same arsenal as Sale, Quintana has a 3.35 ERA since 2013 and one more year left on his deal than Boston Red Sox ace, who is signed through 2019. That extra season could have Quintana in the same value range as Sale, who netted Moncada, the top position player prospect in the majors, Kopech, who has drawn comparisons to Noah Syndergaard, toolsy outfielder Luis Basabe and pitcher Luis Diaz, who has a good fastball.
Hahn and the White Sox have attached a premium price to Quintana and aren’t inclined to deal him unless its met. With five of seven prospects acquired being pitchers, its believed the White Sox would like to acquire another big bat and are more focused on position players.
Five of the Yankees’ top six prospects are position players, including, Torres, outfielders Clint Frazier, Aaron Judge and Blake Rutherford and infielder Jorge Mateo. Rutherford is ranked as the No. 51 prospect in MLB.com’s Top 100 and the rest are in the Top 22.
While the Yankees need another starting pitcher, speculation continues that the club may prefer to hang onto its top prospects, many of whom were acquired last July in trades for Andrew Miller, Aroldis Chapman and Carlos Beltran. The general message out of New York has remained consistent the past six months: The Yankees like their farm system and aren’t too eager to dip into it.
Still, Callis thinks the club could feel more pressure to make a move. Not only are the Red Sox with Sale a strong contender for the pennant, the Yankees have only a 2015 wild card loss to Houston to show for the past four seasons. The team’s lack of success could hurt both its cable ratings and its ability to draw fans. Even if the Yankees have to pay the premium for Quintana, Callis thinks the system is deep enough to handle such a move.
The entire scenario has Hahn in a good place.
“That’d be the perfect team to engage because I think the Yankees have the best farm system right now and the deepest,” Callis said. “The Yankees can make that trade and still have a good farm system and really improve their big league club.
“I do think teams value their prospects, but they also value winning. You’ve got to catch a team in the right cycle. Just using the Yankees for example, yes they went out an acquired prospects. But viewership on the YES Network was down. And if the Yankees aren’t winning, people aren’t going to pay for the YES Network. They have to win.”
“What they did was good for the long-term future of the franchise. But if the Yankees win 80 games this year and miss the playoffs again — they’re not going to be able to keep doing that. They’re going to go all in and start trading these guys.”