Posted on December 21, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
The free agent market for pitchers remains quite weak, and so any team looking to add an impact starter is scouring the trade market for a solution. With Chris Sale off the market after being traded to the Boston Red Sox, the top starter who could be traded before the offseason is Jose Quintana, a former teammate of Sale with the Chicago White Sox. One team that has emerged in recent days as a potential favorite for Quintana is the Pittsburgh Pirates.
This particular rumor is a little light on details, but ESPN‘s Buster Olney did tweet Wednesday morning that the Pirates have “worked hard” on a trade with the White Sox involving Quintana. Olney cites the fact that Quintana is under a team-friendly contract over the next four years makes him a perfect fit for the Pirates, who are traditionally constrained by a tight budget. Obviously, teams with a high payroll are also capable of bringing Quintana aboard from a financial standpoint, but for a team like the Pirates, the chance to add a pitcher the caliber of Quintana via trade does not come along often, which could spur them on to act on this opportunity.
The kicker, of course, is that Quintana comes with a high price tag, and for good reason. He’s only 28, is under team control at an affordable price for four more years, and has been one of the most effective and durable pitchers in baseball over the past handful of years. Even compared to the impressive bounty the White Sox received when they traded Sale, Quintana could be worth nearly as much on the trade market.
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As for the Pirates, they have a rotation led by Gerrit Cole and potential stars like Jameson Taillon and Tyler Glasnow. Pittsburgh’s collection of young pitchers will give them a chance to compete in the years to come, as Taillon and Glasnow both have the potential to develop into frontline starting pitchers. However, pairing Quintana with Cole at the top of their rotation would give the Pirates one of the most formidable 1-2 punches of any rotation in baseball, a duo that could be together for quite some time.
The Pirates would have to give up a lot to make a deal for Quintana happen, but they may have the prospects to make that happen. Pittsburgh’s farm system has five of the top 100 prospects in baseball, according to MLB.com, and if they’d be willing to part with two or three of them, a deal for Quintana may be possible. The Pirates could conceivably do that without giving up all of the depth in their farm system; it’s just a matter of giving the White Sox the kind of prospects they want.
At this point, nothing between the White Sox and Pirates is imminent, and one can only speculate on the prospects that could be involved. However, on the surface, the Pirates appear to be a fit for Quintana, and Pittsburgh’s farm system has plenty of intriguing prospects across all levels, meaning they have the pieces to pull off a trade. The Pirates were not one of the top suitors when it came to Sale, but with regard to Quintana, they are definitely a team to watch.