The White Sox are in the midst of a mini fire sale, having traded Chris Sale and Adam Eaton for loads of prospects. There are still a couple big name players the White Sox could move: first baseman José Abreu and lefty starter José Quintana. The Rockies could use both Josés and have the prospect capital to attain either, but we’ll focus on Quintana and what it might take to get him.
Peter Gammons recently tweeted that the White Sox discussed trading Quintana to the Astros at the Winter Meetings. The White Sox asked for three players: Joe Musgrove, Frances Martes, and Kyle Tucker. The Astros declined.
Yesterday, Dave Schoenfield at ESPN’s SweetSpot offered up a few teams that have both the need and ability to acquire Quintana, and one of them was the Rockies. Schoenfield put together a package that the White Sox would almost certainly say yes to and that the Rockies would be unlikely to put on the table: Brendan Rodgers, Raimel Tapia, and Riley Pint.
Purple Row’s Ryan Freemyer took to Twitter and asked who would win such a trade, the Rockies or the White Sox. Sixty percent of the 253 voters said the White Sox, eight percent the Rockies, and 32 percent said even. Full disclosure: I voted in said poll, and I voted that the trade favors the White Sox. The Rockies would be foolish to offer such a package, but the parts can be the starting point for other ones. Let’s figure something else out.
When thinking about a fair deal, we first have to establish what the Rockies would be getting. Quintana has been one of the 25 best pitchers since his debut in 2012. In that time span, he has posted an ERA+ of 118. He’s sandwiched between Jordan Zimmermann’s 117 and Jon Lester’s 119, whose innings pitched totals are both close to Quintana’s from 2012-2016.
And speaking of innings pitched, Quintana has thrown at least 200 innings in each of the last four seasons. The last time the Rockies had a starter throw 200 innings was 2010. To boot, Quintana is heading into his age-28 season and is owed just $38 million over the next four seasons. The last two seasons are team options, so there’s even pumpkin insurance.
Quintana is good, durable, young, and relatively cheap. He’s worth a lot, which means it would take a lot to acquire him.
Let’s use what the White Sox asked the Astros for as a guide. They asked for a 24-year-old starting pitcher with major-league experience (Musgrove), a 21-year-old right-handed starter and MLB.com No. 29 prospect with Double-A success (Martes), and a 19-year-old outfielder ranked No. 50 with Class A experience (Tucker). Immediately, it is clear that a Rodgers plus Pint package would be too much, as Rodgers is a top 10 prospect and Pint ranked No. 39. The "two top 50 prospects" in the two packages do not align. Either could be the center of a trade, but not both.
Here are a few options that could get a trade done. I’m not suggesting that the Rockies offer any of these, but they are fair packages.
Option 1: Riley Pint, Raimel Tapia, and Germán Márquez
The White Sox’ Winter Meetings ask indicates that they are more interested in players who will be ready sooner rather than later. If Pint is the center of the trade, then the additional players would probably need to be either major-league ready or close to it. Pint has an extremely high ceiling, but he’s probably at least four years away from the majors. This deal would have to include Raimel Tapia. He has major-league experience, and although he might need more seasoning in Triple-A, he could turn into an every day player in 2017. Germán Márquez could round out this deal. He’s MLB.com’s No. 100 prospect and has some major-league experience.
In this scenario, Pint plays Tucker and Tapia and Márquez play Martes and Musgrove. A reason for the Rockies to use Pint as the center is because he’s far away and a pitcher. He’s a lottery ticket that has three correct numbers, but a lottery ticket nevertheless. That’s also a reason for the White Sox to execute the trade, and getting Tapia and Márquez, who are both relatively safe at this point, makes it easy to take on Pint’s volatility.
Option 2: Riley Pint, Raimel Tapia, Jeff Hoffman
But perhaps the White Sox don’t want to take on the risk of a pitcher not yet 20 without getting a better major-league ready pitcher than Márquez. In that case, the Rockies could probably slip Hoffman into the mix. Hoffman has major-league experience, and though it wasn’t successful, it’s clear that he’s finished learning in Triple-A and is ready to take on major-league lessons. Here, Pint is in the Martes role and Tapia and Hoffman appear as Tucker and Musgrove.
Option 3: Brendan Rodgers, Jeff Hoffman, Kyle Freeland
In this case, Rodgers plays Martes if he were more highly regarded, Hoffman is still Musgrove, and Freeland is a less impressive Tucker. Rodgers is still a couple of years away from cracking the majors, but he’s a relatively safe prospect who plays a premium position. Whereas the previous two options have three top 100 prospects (depending on the list), this one only has two. That’s because of Rodgers. Freeland would be easy to let go of for the Rockies, and for the White Sox, he would provide a near major-league ready left handed arm who might work as a starter but can transition to relief if need be.
Option 4: Jeff Hoffman, Ryan McMahon or Raimel Tapia, Ryan Castellani
This one might be a stretch for the White Sox. Hoffman is a fine centerpiece, but Castellani is a couple years away. While he’s consistently young for his level, that doesn’t translate to a higher ceiling. For Castellani, a best future is in the middle rather than top of a rotation. The McMahon/Tapia option presents a ceiling versus safety decision. Tapia should contribute soon, but McMahon has more potential, despite the down year at Double-A. It’s easy to see how a team could like McMahon more than Tapia. In this option, Hoffman is Musgrove, McMahon or Tapia is Tucker, and Castellani is Martes with a lot of squinting.
Of the proposals thus far, this one is probably the one Rockies’ fans like the most and White Sox fans like the least. That could be an indication that it’s a deal that wouldn’t work.
Of these, I like Options 1 and 4, but those probably don’t get it done. They’re Rockies fan proposals. I hate Option 3. I don’t think the Rockies should consider moving Rodgers. He’s not that far away and has a legitimate shot of becoming a premier major-league shortstop. Option 2 is both the most palatable and the most realistic. It would be tough to lose out on what Pint might become, but if the goal is to compete in 2017, that’s a sacrifice to make. Giving up Tapia would sting, but it wouldn’t hurt the team’s immediate fortunes. Letting go of Hoffman would be the easiest here because Quintana would replace him immediately.
But those are just my thoughts. What say you?