Jose Quintana has kept a low profile after Colombia broke his heart the way his White Sox teammates routinely do. He’ll emerge from the back fields to pitch against the Cincinnati Reds today, but that will be his first Cactus League action since his no-decision in the World Baseball Classic. Rick Renteria has yet to commit to an Opening Day starter even though Quintana is the only legitimate choice, and even though teams like the Reds have found one (Scott Feldman!).
Add in a heavy scouting presence for the White Sox at the games of potential trade partners, and it all points to a trade before the start of the season.
And yet even a national reporter with sizable contacts can’t connect the dots in a way that creates more than what the White Sox beat has been telling us all winter. Jeff Passan wrote a lot of words about Quintana for Yahoo! Sports on Wednesday, but the story remains the same — no actual reports of one candidate being stronger than another.
Over the last few days, the buzz around camps in Florida and Arizona converged on the same player: Jose Quintana. Scouts ran their information up the chain – Chicago White Sox scouts are everywhere – and the game of telephone ended with general managers across the game wondering: Are they finally going to deal Quintana?
The answer, major league sources familiar with the talks told Yahoo Sports, is the same it’s been since the White Sox committed to rebuild and started the dismantling of their core: Yes … but only for the right price. And even as the White Sox have dispatched more scouts than usual to those back fields, sources said, no deal has materialized.
This is not to say one couldn’t come together within weeks, days, even hours. Multiple teams, including the Atlanta Braves, have shown continued interest, according to sources. Others known to have been involved at points this spring are the Houston Astros and Pittsburgh Pirates.
While it may seem as though time is running out, it was just two years ago that the Padres traded for Atlanta closer Craig Kimbrel on the day before Opening Day. Granted, there were some differences — San Diego’s front office was far more impulsive than the field allegedly interested in Quintana, and the Braves were the last of a few teams to take advantage of the Padres duringtheir binge phase. Plus, Kimbrel was a vehicle to move Melvin Upton Jr.’s contract, not one to maximize a prospect return, although they did get Matt Wisler out of it. Nevertheless, it’s a precedent, and should a team step up for Quintana, all parties involved can’t claim they lacked time for due diligence.
For the time being, we can marvel at the fact that Jose Quintana trade rumors are as steady as Jose Quintana starts, and they both end in no decisions.
Looking at Tim Anderson’s contract extension on Wednesday morning, I was most struck by how ... generous? ... the White Sox were with Anderson’s salary trajectory over the first six years of the deal. It included sizable pre-arbitration salaries and a fairly aggressive arb-year raises for a player who might not check the statistical boxes typically associated with massive jumps in pay.
In his reporting of how the Anderson extension came to be, Dan Hayes writes that the White Sox needed those salaries to truly get the attention of Anderson’s camp:
When he has one-plus year of service time in 2018, Anderson will earn $1 million — exactly $50,000 shy of what Kris Bryant is making this season after he already won a Rookie of the Year award and a Most Valuable Player award. In 2019, Anderson's $1.4 million salary will be $400,000 more than Mike Trout — already a two-time AL MVP runner-up — earned with roughly the same amount of service time. The $4 million Anderson is set to take home in 2020 is $400,000 higher than Jackie Bradley is earning this season in his first year of arbitration eligibility and $1.275 million more than Lorenzo Cain earned in his in 2015.
Those figures as well as a $7.25 million payday in 2021 and $9.5 million in 2022 were enough to convince Anderson and his team to concede his first two years of free agency.
When I heard about an Anderson extension with no numbers attached, I started with a base of six years and $18 million, as that might be a general salary trajectory going year to year (an average of $600,000 over the first three years, $2.5 million, $5 million and $8 million for arb years). I then shrugged it up to $20 million, which put it in line with the amount Adam Eaton signed for his arb years.
At $25 million, it may then seem like the Sox committed to the higher end of a scale for a player with a wider variance in projections. However, this is probably reflective of a natural progression for such contracts. You can only hear so much about how Quintana, Eaton and Chris Sale are among the greatest contracts in baseball without demanding an increasing amount up front. The fact that Anderson’s contract is blithely accepted by independent analysts despite the price creep suggests teams still have quite a bit more ground to give.