Thursday, May 25, 2017

Jose Quintana, his trade value, and fans' and media perception of it

Jose Quintana
White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana has had his name mentioned in trade rumors for months. And he'll probably continue to have his name mentioned in trade rumors until the day he actually is dealt, whenever that may be.

In the meantime, one of the things that drives me insane about situations such as this is the constant speculation and near-daily fluctuations in what fans and media perceive Quintana's "trade value" to be.

Just last week, Quintana had his best outing of the season. He pitched eight innings of one-hit, one-run ball in an extra-inning victory over the Seattle Mariners. After that performance, Quintana had posted quality starts in five out of six appearances, going 2-2 with a 2.70 ERA over than span.

"Hey, Quintana is on a roll! His trade value is up! The Sox should be able to get a couple good prospects for him at the trade deadline!"

Then, a game such as Wednesday's happens. Quintana retired the first 10 Arizona Diamondbacks he faced. He appeared to be on his way to yet another strong outing. Unfortunately, things turned on a dime, and eight of the second 10 Arizona hitters Quintana faced got hits. He ended up allowing eight earned runs. He got knocked out in the fifth inning, and the Sox lost, 8-6.

"Oh, boy, there goes Quintana's trade value. Nobody's going to want him now that his ERA is up in the high 4s."

This morning, I saw some click bait on the Chicago Tribune's website that Quintana is "Spanish for John Danks" or some such nonsense. I didn't click on it, we're not going to link to it here, and it should be dismissed for the idiocy that it is. However, it's worth bringing up as an example to illustrate how folks -- even media members who should know better -- sway in the wind about a player's "trade value" based upon a very small sample size.

Teams that might interested in acquiring Quintana's services are not going to cross him off their list based upon this one horrible outing against the Diamondbacks, nor were they going to call Rick Hahn and offer all the crown jewels of their farm system for Quintana after his brilliant outing against the Mariners. One game just doesn't make that much of a difference.

Scouts are looking at longer-term trends, what the track record and makeup of the player is, and what kind of stuff he's been featuring as of late. Quintana's fastball command was poor against Arizona, to say the least, but there has been no downturn in velocity or movement. His assortment of offspeed pitches looks the same as it always has.

If Quintana improves his fastball command, and he has a track record of being able to do so, he'll still be a pitcher who is in demand when July rolls around. His ERA might be 4.82 right now, but his career ERA is 3.49. As long as his stuff hasn't fallen off -- and it hasn't -- he's due to trend in a positive direction toward his career norms. An acquiring team may be positioned to take advantage of that trend.

The quality of prospects the Sox would be able to acquire in a Quintana deal remains an open question. Fans and media are not privy to those trade discussions, and you can't believe much of anything you read in the rumor mill.

But it's worth noting that one good game here or one bad game there is not going to have a significant effect on Quintana's worth in the marketplace. As long as he's healthy, he's a pitcher that has value. How much value? Perhaps we'll see in July.


  1. Quintana's #1 asset: since 2012 he has had ZERO DL stints. The ability to pitch 200 innings - even at slightly below league average productivity - is a major value to all 30 MLB clubs.

    And is it really a bad thing if the Sox never trade him? The #1 job in a rebuild is to draft well. Keeping Kenny Williams out of the process so that he can't pick great athletes with no baseball instincts is the first step in that process. It appears that happened in 2016, but I am not convinced until I see the 2017 draft results.

  2. Well, they have Quintana under control through 2020, so I guess it comes down to whether they think they can get back into contention by then without trading him. If they think yes, then it might be a good play to keep him. He's only 28, so there's not any reason to believe he's set for a decline. Even with his struggles, his K rate is as high as ever. Unfortunately, his walk rate is at an all-time high, and that's the problem. Clean that up, and he's back to being all-star caliber. I see spotty command, but no decline in stuff. It might make sense to keep him at least through the year if it becomes a buyers' market in July. We'll see if clubs such as Tampa Bay, Toronto and Pittsburgh become sellers.