By Jared Lankes
There has been a lot of debate in recent days about what it would take for the Pirates to get Jose Quintana. Quintana compiled his best season in 2016 with a 3.25 ERA and a 5.2 WAR. He’s also been a workhorse, having pitched over 200 innings and over 30 starts in each of the past four seasons. There’s no doubt that he is a guy every other pitching staff would love to have and entering his age 28 season and having a very team-friendly contract, why not?
Just what would it take to land Quintana? I’ve seen this debate go down everywhere and have participated myself, I won’t lie. I’ve seen everything from Austin Meadows, Josh Bell, and Tyler Glasnow to trade speculations like Glasnow, Cole Tucker, Elias Diaz, Steven Brault and everything in between. Well, I’m here to try to give a definitive answer to what Pirates would need to give up to pry loose the star lefty.
Firstly, I know we all look at what the White Sox reported ask was for Quintana from Astros and Yankees. However, those are likely just initial asks, and those asks are never the same as what teams get. It’s part of the process. Case in point was the Pirates with Andrew McCutchen. Their initial ask seemed to be Victor Robles, Reynaldo Lopez, and a third piece (two top 50 prospects and more). Then, the Pirates reportedly almost dealt McCutchen for Lucas Giolito, Dane Dunning, and a third piece. This is a far cry from the initial ask, and that’s how it goes. The White Sox are right to ask for the world from the start to shy away teams not really interested in full, then work with the teams that are, just like Pirates with McCutchen as it seems like Pirates asked a lot at start but Nationals weren’t phased and worked with Pirates before eventually dealing for Adam Eaton instead. This is all part of the negotiation process and nearly every trade ever made shows this.
Many trade speculations I have seen have involved either Bell or Meadows along with Glasnow. I, however, don’t think either would have to go in this trade. Not even Chris Sale netted the White Sox a return that would compare to Glasnow plus Meadows or Bell. Yes, the Sale trade netted the top prospect in baseball and another top prospect, but Glasnow, Meadows, and Bell are all top 20 or top 30 prospects. Giving 2 away in any deal is absurd and stuff like that just doesn’t happen.
Glasnow seems like the top guy that would go in this deal and the White Sox would be dumb to say no. But after Glasnow, I doubt Bell, Keller, or Meadows would have to go. Bell and Meadows for the reasons I mentioned before, and Keller because White Sox will likely not look for another pitching prospect heavy deal after Sale and Eaton deals fixed them up there. After Glasnow: Kevin Newman, Ke’Bryan Hayes, Cole Tucker, Diaz, etc are all pieces that could be dealt. The White Sox are pretty good at shortstop, but if they want best prospects, they’ll take Newman and he’d be a very nice second piece in the deal. Then, there’s Hayes. Hayes would be a prospect the White Sox would desire at a position that they’d like to have even though he’s years off. Tucker is another shortstop but maybe the White Sox would take him with Hayes to enhance deals overall value and depth. Diaz seems like he’d be in this deal as he would give the White Sox the younger catcher with years of control they would like.
The Pirates farm system is so deep that they can nab Quintana while keeping Meadows, Bell, and Keller. They would not need to sell the farm for him as they would still be in good shape. I think it’s possible three or four of the Pirates top 10s would go in this deal, however, because that’s still about what you may need to give to get Quintana, but the price wouldn’t be as astronomical as most think.
My speculated deals:
Pirates get: Jose Quintana
White Sox get: Tyler Glasnow, Ke’Bryan Hayes, Cole Tucker, Elias Diaz, Jose Osuna, maybe one very minor piece
Pirates get: Jose Quintana
White Sox get: Tyler Glasnow, Kevin Newman, Elias Diaz, minor piece
These proposals would be great for both sides. The Pirates get the big-time starting pitcher while the White Sox continue to stock up on premier young talent, including another top pitching prospect and some very nice position player prospects to boot.
Jose Quintana is solid, but he is not a perennial big-time Cy Young award candidate or quite as talented as some of the super upper-tier pitchers in the game, such as one the White Sox already dealt in Chris Sale. His contract is insanely good which helps his value, but that doesn’t mean he’s worth a Meadows and/or a Bell. White Sox would undoubtedly get a great haul for him if the top piece in return is Glasnow with other very solid position player prospects going as well. Getting three or four of the Pirates top 10 prospects (one of the best farm systems in the league) is nothing to sneeze at and the White Sox would be dumb to say no to an offer like that.
In the end, I’ve seen many deals similar to this, and in almost none of them does a team give up two of their top three or four prospects. Most times, it ends up being one elite prospect with two or three other very solid prospects and a minor piece or two. It usually never ends up being a deal that drains a team of two or more mega prospects. That’s just not how it works.