Jose Quintana and Chris Sale should be comparable pitchers, at least as far as the trade market is concerned. What Quintana lacks in start-to-start dominance, he makes up for with an extra year on his contract.
“Should” is the operative word. Based on the chatter, it’s likely that Sale has that je ne sais quoi that executives can’t get out of their mind, while Quintana doesn’t quite let imaginations run wild in the same fashion.
Regardless, they’re close enough that the demand should follow a similar curve, even if it doesn’t quite reach the same heights. Based on how we saw Sale’s market play out, the biggest thing Quintana’s has lacked is a second serious suitor.
With Sale, after the White Sox and Red Sox had finalized the trade, the postmortems and making-the-sausage breakdowns all indicated that the two clubs were a match all along, but like romantic comedies, they required their relationship to get needlessly complicated before they accepted their fate. Once the Nationals showed interest, the White Sox took it far enough that Dave Dombrowski chased Rick Hahn down at the airport and persuaded him to not get on that plane.
Similarly, the Astros and White Sox seem to want to make a 110-minute movie out of something that could’ve been sewn up in a fraction of the time.
The Astros have long been floated as a fit for the White Sox and Quintana, and it makes plenty of sense. Houston is short on proven starting pitching and long on prospects/young MLB players, and ready to compete now. Quintana is under control for four years, during which the Astros can rebuild their farm while having nearly all their other key players in the fold.
The White Sox were reportedly rebuffed on their initial attempt to snag Alex Bregman, which, sure. The Astros are in better position than the Braves to deal their top MLB-ready infielder, but it’s too risky with regards to their immediate goals. But Houston also supposedly refused another White Sox asking price involving Joe Musgrove and two of their top prospects (Kyle Tucker and Francis Martes), which is more reasonable/less immediately threatening. The right offer is probably in that neighborhood, but if it makes the Astros even a mite uncomfortable, they’re under no pressure to accept it until they sense a danger of missing out entirely.
Enter the Yankees. They’re ostensibly waiting one more year before reloading on free agents, but they did well enough during their midseason sell-off to accumulate some duplicates in their system. They have infielders (Gleyber Torres, Jorge Mateo), they have outfielders (Clint Frazier, Blake Rutherford), they have pitching (James Kaprielian, Justus Sheffield). The timing doesn’t pay immediate dividends like it does with the Astros, but with Quintana under contract for four seasons, that saves them the Yankees one huge contract when 2018 rolls around, as they’ll have multiple holes in the rotation.
Basically, the circumstances are strong enough that Jon Morosi can drop this ...
... and it can’t be waved away as posturing. Our friends at Pinstripe Alley see the potential, too.
Jack Curry, formerly of the New York Times and now at the YES Network, brought some cold water to the party ...
While Yankees have contacted White Sox about Quintana, chances for a deal are slim. Sox want a ton and Yankee plan is keep best prospects.— Jack Curry (@JackCurryYES) December 19, 2016
... which is also realistic. For the Yankees, it’s probably seven to 12 months away from being perfect timing for a Quintana trade. The acceptable degree of risk comes with knowledge of who Brian Cashman has permission to pursue at top dollar after the 2018 and 2019 seasons.
At any rate, with the Red Sox and Dodgers (temporarily?) satiated by pitching additions and the Nationals depleted by the Adam Eaton trade, the Quintana market was going to need some time to regroup. The introduction of the Yankees looks like the start of keeping a suitor honest, whoever it may be.
(It’s gotta be Houston, right? They have to end up together. This will all be so pointless if they don’t. I don’t know why we even watch this show.)