Teams seeking starting pitching have found the market cost prohibitive so far, with executives saying in particular that the White Sox are seeking an extremely high price for top lefty Jose Quintana (who ranked No. 3 on our top trade value rankings).
There are said to be big gaps in Chicago’s talks with both the Astros and Yankees, who are seen as two of the prime landing spots. That can’t be considered all that unusual with three weeks to go, but it’s causing the interested teams to look around for alternatives while they wait for the price to drop.
Executives on interested teams suggest the ChiSox have sought two very top prospects in bigger packages for Quintana, who’s heated up in recent weeks. People connected to the White Sox insist the price tag is lower than it was for ace Chris Sale, but to this point, according to rivals, it is anything but low.
The White Sox are believed to have sought from the Astros top pitching prospect Francis Martes and outfielder Kyle Tucker, while they are thought to have mentioned in Yankees talks top infield prospect Gleyber Torres or top outfielder prospect Clint Frazier as the headliner in a package of prospects.
White Sox GM Rick Hahn declined to comment on anything regarding the talks until Aug. 1, as is his policy.
Neither interested team seems prepared to surrender two top-30 prospects in bigger packages – at least not to this point. While price tags as described seem a bit steep, the White Sox understand the starting pitching market isn’t exactly flush with top-echelon starters. A’s star Sonny Gray is the one other frontline starter expected to be moved, and while he may equal Quintana in terms of upside, Gray hasn’t been as dependable and healthy as the ChiSox lefty.
Among other top starters with the potential to be available, Tigers legend Justin Verlander makes much more money (he has a $28 million salary this year and the next two years) and also is thought to have a high price tag; Gerrit Cole is seen as less likely to be traded, and it isn’t clear how motivated the Braves are to move Julio Teheran (who was first mentioned in this space as a trade possibility). Jason Vargas and Ervin Santana are assumed to be all but off the block with their teams contending now. Royals GM Dayton Moore told FanRag Sports last week that, in fact, they are a buyer, not a seller.
The price for Quintana is high enough that the Astros are looking elsewhere, having known to have called on Teheran and even Mets star Jacob deGrom, as Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated and MLB Network first reported. And word is, the Astros don’t actually see Quintana as an ace at this point. The Yankees, who once had Quintana in their system, may like him a bit more.
The ChiSox don’t have to deal Quintana, as he has three years remaining on his contract after this one, assuming options are exercised, but Chicago-connected folks have suggested they expect him to go this month.
It’s hard to blame the White Sox too much for putting a high price on Quintana, not only because of the supply-demand situation but also because they have surprised folks with their hauls before, especially when they received three very good prospects for outfielder Adam Eaton at last year’s Winter Meetings. They also got two top-10 prospects for ace Sale – Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech – but of course Sale is one of the very best pitchers in the game.