The Pirates are showing up in the rumor mill once again, this time as buyers. According to Buster Olney of ESPN, the Pirates have been in talks with the White Sox about acquiring Jose Quintana.
This would be a departure from the rumors circulating during the Winter Meetings. Heading into December, it was considered almost certain that Andrew McCutchen would be dealt. With the Nationals and Rangers considered the most likely landing spots, the Nationals used their prospect depth to acquire Adam Eaton instead. Meanwhile, the Rangers ended up agreeing on a one-year deal with Carlos Gomez. While that doesn’t negate going for McCutchen, it doesn’t help either.
The Pirates have worked hard to try to make a trade for Jose Quintana, whose modest contract is perfect for their budget size.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 21, 2016
Olney editorializes that Quintana would be a good fit for the Pirates based on his salary in particular. Quintana is guaranteed just $16.85 million and is under team control for the next four seasons. If his 2019 and 2020 options are picked up, the White Sox’s lefty will be paid just $37.85 million; a relatively small price for a pitcher who has thrown at least 200 innings in each of the past four seasons and been worth more than 18 wins above replacement according to FanGraphs.
Of course, Quintana’s contract is attractive to all major league teams—not just small market ones—and would cost a sizeable haul of prospects. Considering that his former teammate Chris Sale already netted the team the best prospect in all of baseball in Yoan Moncada plus three others, the White Sox can afford to be a bit picky when listening to deals on Quintana. While Sale is a better pitcher, Quintana is under team control for an additional season and has managed one of the largest pitching workloads in the majors over the past four seasons.
The Pirates have the prospect wealth to pull a deal like this off in all likelihood, but parting with top pitching prospects like Tyler Glasnow or Jameson Taillon might not be worth it to them. With both being pre-arb and under team control for the next six seasons, it might be best for the small market Pirates to see how they pan out. Of course, the chance that neither become even as good as Quintana is a distinct possibility.
The Pirates’ system boasts much more than just Glasnow and Taillon and a deal could be built around outfield prospect Austin Meadows or first baseman Josh Bell. In the Sale and Eaton deals, the White Sox did acquire many quality pitching prospects already and might be looking for offensive players to complement their system now.
Time will tell if these two teams happen to match up on a deal. With McCutchen likely not being traded now, and the Pirates on the precipice of contending or selling, the next couple months leading up to the season could be a telling time for the franchise.