The pesky question of valuing Jose Quintana’s trade value won’t disappear. Chicago fans have been waiting for the southpaw to turn his season around but he has only disappointed. Still, Rick Hahn knows what he has in the ace.
The Chicago White Sox have clearly put the southpaw up for auction and several teams have nibbled, but none have pulled the trigger. But Quintana hasn’t necessarily kept up his end of the bargain either.
Before Quintana takes the mound against the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday the withering ace shoulders a 5.30 earned run average and an ugly 2-8 record. And Friday’s outlook has a bleak hue as the Blue Jays have a talented and dangerous lineup.
Kendrys Morales and Josh Donaldson own Quintana. Morales is hitting .342 with a .344 BABIP (Batted Ball In Play) against the left while Donaldson has pulverized the southpaw with .455 batting average (5 for 11).
Yet, Quintana has been able to stifle Toronto’s other slugger, Jose Bautista. With only one hit in 13 at-bats, Bautista is hitting .077 against Quintana and has struck out in almost 31% of his plate appearances against the southpaw.
But, there is good news on Quintana. His FIP (fielding independent of pitching) suggests he has been unlucky — which every Sox fans knows is a rule with Quintana – since the metric, while still above his career average, is over one point lower than his ERA. And considering FIP excludes the impact defensive miscues have on the southpaw’s fundamental stat line, Quintana is not all that bad.
Yes, “not all that bad” is a drab way to characterizing the White Sox prized possession, but it nonetheless is apt. In fact, Quintana’s 4.18 FIP is not a career high. In 2012 the ace logged a 4.23 FIP paired with a 3.76 ERA, and although it was his rookie season he still tossed 136 1/3 innings and started 22 games.
Reversals of fortune happen in professional sports and most times they are inexplicable. Yet, understanding the competitor and professional Quintana is, there is little cause for concern.
Looking into the Crystal Ball
The White Sox will trot out the southpaw at least eight more times before the July 31 trade deadline (including Friday night against the Blue Jays) and could squeeze an extra start out of Quintana after the All-Star break if he starts dealing.
Teams do their due diligence on all players constantly reevaluating trade value at all times, but when a player like Quintana is cast out into the wayward seas of trade chatter scouts flock to watch him pitch. And there are three dates that Quintana will find himself under close examination.
New York, New York
Barring unforeseen weather systems that have dogged the South Siders this season, Quintana will take the mound on June 27 against the New York Yankees. The Baby Bombers have blasted their way into first place behind an explosively record-setting first half of the season by Aaron Judge. With Gary Sanchez, Matt Holliday and even Brett Gardner joining the bomb barrage in the Bronx the Yankees lineup is potent.
Yet, Joe Girardi’s bunch are clinging to a two-game lead over the surging Boston Red Sox and are in the midst of a three-game skid.
The Yankees indeed have the horses to cement a deal with the White Sox for Quintana, but after netting an enormous haul at last year’s trade deadline they will think very carefully before making an offer.
The other two dates feature National League opponents.
The Colorado Rockies are out to a tremendous start but the Arizona Diamondbacks are nipping at their heals. With a one game lead and the high-octane offense to catapult their drive into October, the Rockies might think about putting a package together for Quintana.
Rockies Brass will have the added benefit of watching him pitch at Coors Field on July 8. With a young and inexperienced pitching staff, July 8 will serve as an audition for the entire White Sox pitching staff to showcase their stuff. Given the Rockies bullpen questions it appears likely they will scrutinize White Sox relievers even more.
Los Angeles Dodgers
And there is the Los Angeles Dodgers. L.A. brass has stated that they will pursue the best available starter at the trade deadline and the White Sox must hope and pray that the Texas Rangers, Kansas City Royals and Tampa Bay Rays don’t put their aces up for sale.
And if the White Sox can’t find the right price for Quintana before the trade deadline he will have the second half of the season to return to form.
Holding onto Quintana would not be the worst idea either. With three more years left on his contract, two of which are team options, he will be 31 years old by the time the White Sox are expected to compete again. Moreover, with the current injection of talent from the Chris Sale and Adam Eaton trades, and given the flurry of anticipated deals for quality bullpen pieces, the White Sox should ignore the impulse to move Quintana for a subpar deal — not to mention the recent signing of Luis Robert added further value to the farm system.
Besides his value on the field Quintana provides added value in the club house. The White Sox cannot lose with by having such a highly regarded veteran on the roster – yes, culture, chemistry and leadership matter.
However, the reality is that if Rick Hahn can’t find a suitor by the trade deadline and Quintana flips the switch in the second half of the season there will be a feeding frenzy during the offseason and the White Sox could find themselves on the winning end of another lopsided trade.