The Astros are poised to make a strong run at the American League West title. Quintana would indeed raise their chances of success, but the Chicago White Sox are steadfast in their demands for the sturdy left-hander.
It’s assumed that with the scarcity of quality starting pitching on the free agent market, that almost every major-league team is in on Quintana to some degree. On Tuesday, the New York Yankees and Pittsburgh Pirates were reportedly bullish on Quintana but there’s healthy suspicion that Rick Hahn is throwing out red herrings to back teams into a corner.
One team that has been consistently circling Quintana and the White Sox is the Astros. After signing Carlos Beltran and trading for Brian McCann, the Astros look awfully strong on paper and adding Quintana to the rotation would push them into the highest echelon of talented teams.
The White Sox won’t sell Quintana cheap and Peter Gammons reported that the South Siders asked for Francis Martes, Kyle Tucker and Joe Musgrove in return for the southpaw. Martes and Tucker are the top two prospects in the Astros’ organization while Musgrove performed well in his rookie debut with the big-league club. However, besides the fact that the White Sox asked for a package they know the Astros won’t agree to, there are better deals to be made with other clubs (such as the Los Angeles Dodgers, Washington Nationals, Pirates and Yankees).
Assuming the Astros are determined to make a deal for Quintana, there are a few alternatives that might pique the White Sox’ interest.
After acquiring a congress of elite, hard-throwing right-handed pitching, Martes could be left off the trading block. Tucker should be more attractive to the White Sox as a young left-handed outfielder with an advanced approach at the plate, and any viable deal for Quintana will include the slugger.
Bringing in Musgrove as a 24-year-old with the White Sox in the nascent stages of rebuilding doesn’t make much sense unless the right-hander will be part of the future nucleus. But within the next few years Lucas Giolito, Carson Fulmer, Reynaldo Lopez, Carlos Rodon and Michael Kopech make a crowded rotation with little space for Musgrove. And if the White Sox are looking for bullpen depth, they can bring in Musgrove when the rebuild is complete and they are contenders.
David Paulino might be a better choice for the South Siders and less offensive to the Astros’ palate. The right-hander is two years younger than Musgrove with room to grow and little big-league service time. Paulino may be a quintessential case of post-Tommy John fortune, having elevated his fastball velocity to the 93-95 miles per hour range, touching 98 mph. The youngster is still developing and feeling out his repertoire and the White Sox would gain yet another hard-throwing right-hander in Paulino, illustrating the shallow pond of options the Astros can offer the White Sox.
The only left-handed minor-league alternative the Astros can offer is Cionel Perez – a Cuban youngster that signed for $2 million (original deal was $5.15 million but nullified after concerns raised during his physical). As a new prospect, having signed in September 2016, there is little known about how he will respond against polished hitters in the minor leagues.
A pitcher like Quintana certainly demands a high price tag and a deal with the Astros seems threadbare unless they are willing to part with A.J. Reed or Alex Bregman – naturally, this will never happen. With other teams like the Dodgers, Yankees and Pirates offering better combinations of prospects it seems like a deal with the Astros might be dead in the water.