The more things change, the more things stay the same. And that will not suffice.
At this time last offseason, the Chicago White Sox had sent Micah Johnson, Trayce Thompson and Frankie Montas to the Los Angeles Dodgers as part of a three-team deal with the Cincinnati Reds, netting third baseman Todd Frazier. That move came one week after general manager Rick Hahn sent Zack Erwin and J.B. Wendelken to the Oakland A’s for Brett Lawrie. The club had also acquired Tommy Kahnle, Alex Avila and Dioner Navarro via trade or free agency. Each would play significant roles (to varying degrees of bad) on the 25-man roster in 2016.
For all the movement, though, White Sox fans weren’t satisfied. Hahn’s business was unfinished. The need for a corner outfielder became even more pressing after adding Frazier and Lawrie. Sure, the White Sox filled gaping holes at second and third and thought the platoon of Avila and Navarro would in some way be better than a full season of Tyler Flowers. Without that outfielder, though, the White Sox went into 2016 an incomplete team. It would remain that way as Yoenis Cespedes, Alex Gordon and Justin Upton signed elsewhere and the Sox signed a declining Austin Jackson.
And now, after trading away Chris Sale and Adam Eaton for what are widely held to be excellent returns, Hahn is once again in a position where there is one more move to make. This offseason, that means trading Jose Quintana.
Now Hahn’s stated several times he doesn’t have to trade Quintana, and the requested return is reportedly three “elite prospects,” per Jack Curry from the YES Network. He did the same thing with Sale, and the return from the Boston Red Sox brought Yoan Mondaca, Michael Kopech, Luis Alexander Basabe and Victor Diaz. Ostensibly, moving Quintana for less than what Hahn believes to be a fair return is a bad look.
What does that look like, though? Does Austin Meadows have to be involved in any deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates? Alex Bregman’s exclusion a deal-breaker with the Houston Astros? What about the New York Yankees? All three clubs are linked to the White Sox lefty.
To be sure, Quintana is one of the best pitchers in the American League. Heck, he’s one of the best in the game and has found success despite not having an “out” pitch, which says as much about his ability to pitch as anything. And with four years left on his team-friendly contract, it can be argued that keeping him on the 25-man is the play. After all, Moncada, Lucas Giolito (acquired from the Washington Nationals in the Eaton move), Kopech, Basabe and the others will all be ready by then. Whether or not they’re any good is a different conversation altogether, though the point remains—Quintana can help this team win once the window opens.
Another thing to consider is that, according to Peter Gammons, the Tampa Bay Rays reportedly turned down a deal with the Astros for Chris Archer that included Kyle Tucker, Francis Martes, David Paulino and two other prospects. For the record, that’s the Astros No. 2 outfielder and Nos. 1 and 2 pitching prospects. Seeing as how Quintana is better than Archer in most measurable statistics, surely the White Sox can get more for him than the Astros offered the Rays.
Logic like this, no matter how practical it sounds, is the easy way out. Quintana needs to be traded. The permutations of a deal are endless. Both the Pirates and Astros have the players to make the move. Find the best one make it. Trading Q for the sake of trading Q is not what’s being advocated. Trading him for the same package the Astros offered the Rays, however, would not be settling. It’s a damn good package.
Whatever you do, Rick, finish what you started.