NEW YORK — The Chicago White Sox are making their only visit of the season to Yankee Stadium this week.
That means The Human Trade Rumor is in the nation’s largest media market; plenty of reporters have been asking left-hander Jose Quintana about his future with the White Sox.
Quintana has been very gracious when asked about all the trade chatter that has surrounded him since December, when the White Sox began a youth movement by trading left-hander Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox and outfielder Adam Eaton to the Washington Nationals during the Winter Meetings.
In fact, the 28-year-old smiled when asked if he gets tired talking about the possibility of being traded.
“Yes,” he said. “That’s why I give the same answer every time. I don’t have control. Same answer. It’s baseball. It is what it is.”
Really, what else can Quintana say?
He doesn’t have no-trade rights in his contract, so general manager Rick Hahn can ship him anywhere at any time. Most likely, Hahn will send Quintana packing once a team meets his asking price of two top-tier and one second-tier prospect.
Even though Quintana has lost his first three starts this season, Hahn isn’t likely to drop his hefty request anytime soon; the lefty pitched at least 200 innings each of the last four seasons while going 40-40 with a 3.35 ERA and 1.22 WHIP.
Quintana is also affordable to nearly any team, as he will make a combined $15.85 million this year and next in the final two guaranteed seasons of his five-year, $26.5 million contract. There are also club options for $10.5 million in 2019 and $11.5 million in 2020 that can be bought out for $1 million each.
Quintana has an uncharacteristic 6.75 ERA and 1.61 WHIP this season but will try to turn things around in his fourth start Friday night when the White Sox host the Cleveland Indians in the opener of a three-game series.
An amateur psychologist might suggest Quintana’s struggles stem from the trade rumors. However, he says any internal pressure stems from trying to replace Sale as the White Sox’s ace.
“I’ve started a little slow,” Quintana said. “Now I have my mind on doing a better job and helping my team. I know I have a lot of responsibility. I try not to get down and have that on my shoulders because I don’t want any pressure on me.
“I’ve learned from my starts. I watched a couple videos. A couple bad locations. That’s going to happen sometime.”
Despite trading Sale and Eaton, the White Sox are off to a solid 7-6 start, putting them only one game behind the division-leading Detroit Tigers in the American League Central.
The White Sox received seven prospects in the Sale and Eaton trades. Three are with Triple-A Charlotte — infielder Yoan Moncada and right-handers Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito — and figure to reach Chicago at some point this season.
Baseball America ranked Moncada as the second-best prospect in the game prior to spring training; Giolito was No. 25 and Lopez was No. 32.
Right-hander Michael Kopech, ranked 32nd, is in the rotation at Double-A Birmingham and could make his major-league debut at some point this year. Kopech and Moncada came from the Red Sox while Giolito and Lopez were acquired from the Nationals.
Quintana had a chance to see the talented newcomers in spring training. It leads him to believe the rebuilding process may not take so long and that the White Sox could return to the postseason for the first time since 2008 sooner than those on the outside think.
Quintana also has a sense of loyalty to the White Sox, who helped salvage his career by signing him after he was released in the minor-leagues by both the Yankees and New York Mets. In fact, he would love to be with the White Sox when the rebuilding pays off at the major-league level.
“I feel good about the team,” he said. “We have more younger guys now and I think we’ve started good. We’ve got a lot of talented guys in the farm system that are going to make us even better in the long run.
“I’m happy to be here. I like playing for the White Sox.”