Pittsburgh Pirates: Jose Quintana Price Still Very High
Rumors: Chicago White Sox pitcher Jose Quintana is still said to be available. However, for the Pittsburgh Pirates to acquire him, the cost is likely still too great.
A few days ago, Yahoo! Sports writer Jeff Passan reported that the Pittsburgh Pirates were one of a few teams still checking in on Jose Quintana this spring. Passan noted that while no deal seems to be progressing on any front, the White Sox have their scouts at most Spring Training games in Florida and Arizona. If that is the case, then there most likely would have been plenty of them to watch the Pittsburgh Pirates games this Spring. Many of the Pirates’ prospects received an extended look in Big League Camp due to the World Baseball Classic. This gave scouts a good opportunity to see potential targets in action. Passan said on a potential deal and the Pittsburgh Pirates:
"“This is not to say one couldn’t come together within weeks, days, even hours. Multiple teams, including the Atlanta Braves, have shown continued interest, according to sources. Others known to have been involved at points this spring are the Houston Astros and Pittsburgh Pirates.”"
This report by Passan came out two days ago. Meanwhile, White Sox General Manager Rick Hahn has made some public comments regarding the trade talks and his expectations moving forward. Scott Merkin of MLB.com talked with General Manager Rick Hahn about where things stand in terms of potential trades. Hahn told Merkin:
"“We would love to move this thing along based strictly on our desire, but it’s too important we do it right than to force the issue based on impatience. We don’t have specific time frames on any of these things.”"
Essentially what Rick Hahn is saying is that he will not back away from their current asking price. He is not going to make a move just to make a move. The belief around the industry is that the White Sox are requesting a big package, with some reports are saying similar to the package of prospects that they received for Chris Sale. Although Sale is the bigger name of the two, Quintana has almost matched Sale in terms of WAR over the last three years with a cumulative 14.2 WAR versus Sale’s 16.6 WAR. Throw in a cheaper contract with four years of control, and Quintana most likely should net a similar return in terms of talent.
With that being said, the Red Sox gave up one of the top prospects in baseball in Yoan Moncada, and a top 25 pitching prospect in Michael Kopech. Also, the White Sox got two more prospects in Luis Basabe and Victor Diaz. Basabe is ranked as the White Sox eighth overall prospect, while Diaz is ranked at number 22. Essentially it would take a package of three to four top 30 prospects from the Pirates to get a deal done.
This is a price the Pittsburgh Pirates and Neal Huntington will not meet. Huntington reiterates this stance every couple months in interviews. He explains that a team in the Pirates market can not afford to purge their system for one player. Yet, every time a rumor swirls, people think how they operate will all of a sudden change. The deal for Quintana would likely center around either Josh Bell or Austin Meadows. The White Sox apparently want a headlining hitting prospect in any deal. This is because they picked up three top pitching prospects this past off-season in deals. Both of these prospects are probably the most untouchable players in the Pirates system right now. Neal Huntington invested a ninth overall pick into Meadows and plans on him replacing Andrew McCutchen as soon as mid-summer.
Meanwhile, Bell represents something that the Pirates have not had in a very long time, a potential impact first baseman. This situation is mind-boggling in a way. For the last 15 years, fans have clamored over the fact that this organization never has an offensive upside first baseman. Now, the Pittsburgh Pirates finally have one, one who they invested a record-breaking bonus into, has torn up the minors, and fans are ready to ship him out now that he is MLB ready. Not to mention, acquiring Quintana in exchange for Bell fills one hole, but then opens up another.
Next: Pirates Maintain Interest in Quintana
What it comes down to is the Pittsburgh Pirates will never meet a team’s asking price. The Pirates operate in a very strategic manner, they normally only trade from areas of depth from the minors. For the Pirates to make a deal, they will need the White Sox to accept their offer and not the other way around. That is an offer that will not include Josh Bell or Austin Meadows. Neither side is wrong for standing their ground in this scenario. Of course, neither side is in a place to fold to the other’s demands either. Furthermore, the Pirates still have plenty of talent they can offer up if the White Sox lower their demands at all.
All Stats Courtesy of FanGraphs and Baseball Reference
All Prospect Rankings are from MLB Pipeline