After jettisoning Chris Sale to Boston and Adam Eaton to Washington respectively, the Chicago White Sox are in the midst of a full scale rebuild. While bolstering the farm system with those two trades, the White Sox still have many trade chips that possibly contending teams are interested in. None of those chips are more valuable than their top starting pitcher, Jose Quintana.
The 27 year old ace is so valuable because of his youth and his contract. Over the next two years, Quintana is owed just 6M and 8.8M respectively, then has two no brainer team options for 2019 and 2020 at 10.5M apiece. In total, Quintana is under contract over the next four years for just 35.8M. This chart shows the Wins Above Replacement that Quintana has produced over the past four years, as well as what he is projected to produce over the next four years (which is the remaining duration of his contract).
Jose Quintana Age 24-27 Production and Age 28-31 Projection
*Assumed aging curve via FanGraphs: +0.25 WAR/yr (18-27), 0 WAR/yr (28-30),-0.5 WAR/yr (31-37),-0.75 WAR/yr (> 37
This projection is based on an assumed aging curve that forecasts 18.7 WAR from Quintana. That is an aggressive and optimistic estimate, but not completely out of left field. In fact, a recent article by Craig Edwards on FanGraphs identifies pitchers throughout baseball history who compare to Quintana based on their numbers through age 27. The chart from that article displays the statistics of those comparable players in their ages 28-31 seasons in an effort to project Quintana’s value.
Jose Quintana Comps Age-28 through Age-31 (via FanGraphs)
*David Price’s age-31 season will come in 2017
There are several details of note in this chart. For the purposes of this article, we are only concentrating on WAR, and the previous 18.7 projection for Quintana fits right in the ballpark; while still bullish, it would reasonably slot in at third on this list. The second note is regarding David Price – his data is incomplete, as 2017 will be his age 31 season. That means there is potentially 3-5 WAR to be added, but we will consider this chart as is and use that value as our margin of error. One last thing to note is the outlier that is Dwight Gooden. As mentioned in Edwards’ article, Gooden’s extreme drop off in production had more to do with his off the field demons with illegal drugs rather than a typical decline; in my opinion, it is inaccurate to include his numbers and the baggage surrounding them in an effort to project Jose Quintana. Therefore, in the following chart, I kept Price as is, added the theoretical projection for Quintana’s age 28-31 seasons, and eliminated the outlier Gooden.
Jose Quintana Comps Age-28 through Age-31 (Adjusted)
This new average is what one can expect Jose Quintana to produce in the next four years, and the White Sox will market him as such. If one divides those 16.8 WAR over the four years equally, Quintana would produce a theoretical 4.2 WAR per year. If the cost per win in 2017 is set at the assumed 8M and inflates each year at 5%, we can estimate how much value Quintana produces in dollar value in the following chart.
Jose Quintana Projected Surplus Value, Age-28 through Age-31
*Assumes a 5% inflation/year in $/WAR
As you can see in the fourth column from the left, Quintana is projected to produce 144.9M worth of value for the rest of his contract. The next column breaks down the salary he is due to be paid, and by subtracting that 35.8M total from the 144.9M he is truly worth, you are left with 109.1M of surplus value. This is the exact number that can describe Quintana’s stock in the view of Rick Hahn and co. in the White Sox front office. For a team to acquire Quintana from Chicago, they would have to surrender something close to equal value in prospects. This is where things really get interesting.
Kevin Creagh and Steve DiMiceli of the Point of Pittsburgh wrote a highly influential article in 2014 (updated in 2016) that provides dollar valuation for top prospects based on their position in the top 100 list and status as either a position player or pitcher, with the data being derived from past prospects. That article deserves a full read, but the purpose it serves for this piece is a guide to crafting a realistic package of prospects for Quintana. Based on this system, one can take the Top 100 Prospect List, assign dollar valuations for each player, and identify which teams have the pieces to trade for Quintana and what exactly a fair swap would entail.
After assigning dollar valuations for each prospect, one can identify every team that can be reasonably linked to Quintana and create a trade package in the value of at least 109.1M.
Top 100 Prospect Valuations for Teams Potentially Inquiring on Jose Quintana
|Astros||Francis Martes (29.8M)||Kyle Tucker (38.2M)|
|David Paulino (16.5M)||Derek Fisher (20.6M)|
|Forrest Whitley (16.5M)||121.6M|
|Braves||Dansby Swanson (73.5M)||Ozzie Albers (62M)|
|Kolby Allard (16.5M)||Ian Anderson (15.6M)|
|Kevin Maitan (20.6M)||Mike Soroka (15.6M)||203.8M|
|Cubs||Ian Happ (62M)||Eloy Jiminez (62M)|
|Dylan Cease (15.6M)||Jeimer Candelario (20.6M)||160.2M|
|Dodgers||Cody Bellinger (38.2M)||Jose DeLeon (29.8M)|
|Alex Verdugo (38.2M)||Willie Calhoun (20.6M)|
|Yadier Alvarez (15.6M)||Yusniel Diaz (20.6M)||163M|
|Pirates||Tyler Glasnow (69.9M)||Austin Meadows (73.5M)|
|Josh Bell (62M)||Kevin Newman (38.2M)|
|Mitch Keller (16.5M)||260.1M|
|Red Sox||Andrew Benintendi (73.5M)||Rafael Devers (62M)|
|Jason Groome (29.8M)||165.3M|
|Yankees||Clint Frazier (62M)||Gleyber Torres (62M|
|Jorge Mateo (62M)||Aaron Judge (62M)|
|Blake Rutherford (22.4M)||Justus Sheffield (15.6M)||286M|
Let’s walk through the possible packages.
The Astros are known to be in on Quintana, but reportedly rebuffed a trade proposal including major league starter Joe Musgrove (who was worth 15.6M on this list just a year ago) as well as their two top prospects Francis Martes (29.8M) and Kyle Tucker (38.2M). Assuming Musgrove’s stock has only increased since experiencing big league success as a rookie, this is exactly the kind of package our chart here dictates as a fair trade for Quintana. If Houston refused to pull the trigger on that trade, it is likely they are out on Quintana.
The Braves are in the latter stages of a rebuilding phase and looking for major league talent. They were connected to former White Sox ace Chris Sale before his trade to Boston, but Dansby Swanson (73.5M) is probably one of two or three prospects on our chart that can be deemed untouchable. Regardless, a deal could be made centered around Ozzie Albers (62M) and filled out by any three of Kolby Allard (16.5M), Ian Anderson (15.6M), Kevin Maitan (20.6M), or Mike Soroka (15.6M). It would be a blow to the depth of their farm system, but it is also a testament to how deep their young core is.
Believe it or not, the defending World Series champs have work to do to stay on top, even with their crafty acquisition of Wade Davis to fortify the bullpen. Theo Epstein isn’t expecting Kyle Hendricks to pitch like prime Greg Maddux every year, 2015 NL Cy Young Jake Arrieta is a pending free agent, and while Jon Lester should have some good years left, John Lackey is in his age 38 season. They have a wealth of expendable prospects, and a package centered around either Ian Happ (62M) or Eloy Jimenez (62M) and filled out by Dylan Cease (15.6M) and Jeimer Candelario (20.6M) would only come about 10M short in value for Quintana. If things came down to a heated bidding war, a monster package of both Happ and Jimenez would overshoot Quintana’s value by about 15M. Young major league assets Albert Almora and NLCS MVP Javy Baez are most likely to stay on the North Side of Chicago while the Cubs seek to become the first repeat World Champions since 2000.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers are most concerned with the hole at second base, but a theoretical Quintana deal is possible if they so choose to go that route. It’s not likely, but a package of their top three prospects Cody Bellinger (38.2M), Jose DeLeon (29.8M), and Alex Verdugo (38.2M) would be in the right range. Of course, no team wants to give up so much from their top tier, so another deal could center around DeLeon, one of Bellinger/Verdugo, and two of Yadier Alvarez (15.6M), Willie Calhoun (20.6M), and Yusniel Diaz (20.6M). Don’t expect to see Quintana in a Dodger uniform anytime soon.
The Pirates are hotly in pursuit of Quintana at the time of this writing. A deal centered around Austin Meadows (73.5M) or Tyler Glasnow (69.9M) and sweetened by Kevin Newman (38.2M) would be just about enough for Quintana. However, the Pirates are more likely to keep Glasnow and trade Meadows due to their lack of pitching depth and crowded outfield. If the Pirates don’t want to deal either of their two most prized prospects, they could use Josh Bell (62M) as the centerpiece and embellish the offer with Newman and Mitch Keller (16.5M). Watch the Pirates in their bids to pry Quintana from Chicago.
Boston Red Sox
After already acquiring an ace from the White Sox at a steep price this offseason, the Red Sox are likely tapped out of major moves this winter. Like the Dodgers, they are extremely unlikely to make a deal for Quintana, but a deal is theoretically possible. Andrew Benintendi (73.5M) is another untouchable piece from the chart, but a package headlined by Rafael Devers (62M) and Jason Groome (29.8M) would be a respectable, albeit lowball offer for Quintana. The Red Sox, already unlikely to want to give up both Devers and Groome, would have to add even more value from their depth outside the Top 100, while the White Sox can certainly find a better offer. One fifth of the 2016 White Sox rotation is already more than enough to keep Boston fans pleased.
New York Yankees
Like the Pirates, the Yankees have been heavily linked to Quintana in recent days, but their intentions are a lot less clear. They are in the latter stages of a rebuilding/reloading stage that should come to fruition in the next two years, but it is conceivable that they dip into their considerable prospect wealth to accelerate their path back to contention. They have several valuable centerpieces, including Clint Frazier (62M), Gleyber Torres (62M), Jorge Mateo (62M), and Aaron Judge (62M). A monster package of any two of those would be an interesting play in a potential bidding war and in the mold of a Happ/Jimenez offer. It should be noted that Blake Rutherford’s (22.4M) ranking as the 51st best prospect in the top 100 was one slot away from a 38.2M valuation. Packaging one of New York’s top two pieces, Frazier and Torres, alongside Rutherford, would be slightly underwhelming; pieces from outside the top 100 would have to be added by New York. If the Yankees brass is reluctant to part with Frazier or Torres, another possibility is the use of Judge or Mateo as the centerpiece and including both Rutherford and Justus Sheffield (15.6M). The Yankees are notorious for not showing their cards, so nobody can be sure if they are truly hot on Quintana, but the connection is worth following.
As you can see, the price to pay for Jose Quintana is sky high, and rightfully so. In this exercise, we didn’t even consider variables such as a three team deal or the possible inclusion of David Robertson in a Quintana deal, whose hefty 24M salary through 2018 would offset the prospect cost for a team willing to take on the added payroll. Whether your favorite team or your favorite prospect(s) are involved in a trade for Jose Quintana remains to be seen, but it is likely that the White Sox will be waiting to receive something close to one of these packages.