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White Sox rumors: Interest from Pirates shows Jose Quintana’s wide appeal

Buster Olney says Pittsburgh has been “working hard” trying to make a deal with Chicago

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Because the Jose Quintana market has been a slowly developing one, we’ve had plenty of opportunities to weigh the reported candidates, turning each such post into a “Previously on South Side Sox.”

If you’re just tuning in, the Astros have been the perfect match in terms of farm system headliners, depth and present-day need, but they keep coming up with reasons why it wouldn’t work. Or at least Dave Cameron does, leaning heavily on isolated stats and faith in pitchers with durability issues.

Then the Yankees came swaggering in with their combination of old money and new toys. Quintana would represent an investment for future seasons more than a way to seal-coat an immediate contender, but Jim Callis says the Yankees and Sox should have each other’s attention nevertheless

And just as the episode is coming to an end ... what’s this? A guy with an eyepatch?

The Pirates could be a fit along the lines of the Astros, depending on how hard they want to commit to the present. They went 78-83 last year, chiefly because of a down year from Andrew McCutchen and a volcano laying waste to their pitching staff. It wouldn’t be unusual/irrational to try making another run with a healthier McCutchen and a pitcher like Quintana to stabilize the rotation.

Then they started dangling McCutchen, signaling a potential step back in order to integrate top prospects like Austin Meadows and Tyler Glasnow. The McCutchen rumors seem to come and go, and recently there’s been a flow of them involving the Mets.

Given that Quintana’s contract allows a team to address the present and future when acquiring him, he still fits a team like Pittsburgh. It just might not be as great a fit for the White Sox if the Pirates want to acquire him without sacrificing multiple name-brand farm talents. That may be why they’ve “worked hard” without making strong progress.

If this is the situation they’re attempting to straddle, their hopes might rest on a three-team trade, in which they only have to fire one of their big bullets while another club kicks in another prospect of renown. It’s not unthinkable, but it’s probably harder to pull off for a pitcher of Quintana’s caliber.

That’s why this keeps going back to the Astros, and Yankees to a lesser extent. Both of those teams have the prospects and trajectory to add now without remorse, while other clubs have to extend themselves into somewhat compromising territory. At the same time, Quintana is a great-enough pitcher on a great-enough contract to make all sorts of teams do their due diligence and come up with an offer, even if there’s a chance it’ll be topped. I mean, Grant Brisbee’s out there trying to come up with something for the Orioles:

This pairing was included here before the latest rumors about Quintana and the Pirates, which also make a lot of sense. But I’ve made up my mind and I’m stubborn. The Orioles can stop screwing around with expensive pitchers like Yovani Gallardo and Ubaldo Jimenez, and get an ace who’s under team control for several years at a low price, which would allow them to be competitive for Manny Machado.

Difficulty: The Orioles don’t have a top-10 farm system, and the prospects they do have are probably made up (Chance Sisco and Ryan Mountcastle, looking at you). If there was ever a pitcher to make a team want to deal its best prospects, as well as a player or two off its 25-man roster, Quintana is it.

That’s why it has struck me all along as a deliberate market, but one in which a deal will get done. You’ll just have to deal with all sorts of plot twists while it shakes out. The cliffhanger for this one: Were the Yankees just a dream?