The White Sox and Yankees are among the clubs expressing interest in Pirates starter José Quintana, reports Robert Murray of FanSided. The veteran southpaw is almost certain to change teams as a fairly productive impending free agent on the fourth-place Bucs.
Chicago is plenty familiar with Quintana, of course. The Colombian-born hurler began his big league career with the South Siders and spent essentially all of his prime seasons there. One of the sport’s best pitchers at his peak, Quintana worked 200+ innings with an ERA of 3.51 or lower each season from 2013-16. The Sox flipped him across town in a 2017 blockbuster that netted them Dylan Cease and Eloy Jiménez from the Cubs.
Since leaving the White Sox, Quintana has posted more up-and-down production. He’s generally looked like a competent but unexciting back-of-the-rotation arm, excepting last season when he spent a good chunk of the year in the bullpen. Quintana has returned to the rotation full-time since signing with Pittsburgh, taking 19 turns and working 97 1/3 innings. At just a bit more than five frames per start, the 33-year-old has had a relatively sheltered workload. The Pirates have allowed him to face a batter for the third time in an outing on just 68 occasions all season.
While Quintana hasn’t been counted on as a prototypical innings eater, he’s been generally effective on a rate basis. He owns a 3.70 ERA, his lowest mark since his final full season with the White Sox. Quintana has a modest 20.7% strikeout rate, but he’s induced swinging strikes on a slightly above-average 11.1% of his pitches. After an uncharacteristic spike in walks last season, he’s again demonstrating his more typical strong control (7.1% walk percentage).
Quintana won’t be the most exciting player on the move this summer, but there’s value for contenders in stability at the back of the rotation. The White Sox have gotten ace-level production from Cease, and minor league signee Johnny Cueto has provided an invaluable 2.72 ERA through 12 starts. However, the Sox have gotten underwhelming work from Lucas Giolito and Lance Lynn. Hard-throwing righty Michael Kopech has shown well in moving from the bullpen to the rotation, but his 83 innings are already past last year’s 69 1/3 frames. Pitching coach Ethan Katz pushed back against the idea that Kopech will be on any sort of innings limit this evening (via Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times). Nevertheless, there’s room for another arm capable of reducing some of the pressure on Kopech, particularly with Vince Velasquez on the injured list due to blister trouble.
The Yankees are also familiar with Quintana, although he’s never suited up for them in the major leagues. He spent three years in their minor league system before making his MLB debut, departing as a minor league free agent after the 2011 campaign. Of course, the far more relevant concern for general manager Brian Cashman and his staff would be to fortify the depth of a rotation that recently lost Luis Severino to a lat strain. The Yankees rotation has been very good overall but middle-of-the-pack over the past month, with Jameson Taillon particularly struggling of late. As with the White Sox, New York probably wouldn’t look to Quintana to supplant anyone in their top five, but rather as a swing option who can add some stability behind that group.
Quintana should have a fairly broad range of appeal to pitching-needy clubs, as he’s affordable. He’s playing this season on just a $2MM base salary, around $800K of which remains owed. That’s a marginal sum, no doubt intriguing with the White Sox and Yankees each looking to bolster rosters that are already running franchise-record payrolls.