Despite a flurry of activity at the winter meetings, Major League Baseball's offseason is far from over with all 30 teams still in search of ways to upgrade their rosters for a run at the World Series.
There are still a number of marquee free agents waiting to find the right deal for their liking, though the trade market has been the most active and engaging this winter. It's unlikely another player of Chris Sale's caliber will be dealt, but the well is still flush with water to fill those buckets.
Trades have also become more of a necessity for fringe playoff contenders with impending free agents since the new collective bargaining agreement has reduced compensation for players who reject qualifying offers.
Jose Quintana's Steep Price
No team has helped its future more this offseason than the Chicago White Sox, who have added top-tier prospects Lucas Giolito, Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech and Reynaldo Lopez to their farm system by trading Sale to the Boston Red Sox and Adam Eaton to the Washington Nationals.
With the White Sox clearly in sell mode, their next big domino on the table is Jose Quintana. It certainly won't be easy to pry him away from Chicago, as noted by Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle:
The Astros are among the teams that have discussed Quintana with the White Sox but to this point have found the asking price too high for their liking, industry sources said on Wednesday. Quintana is not of the caliber of Sale, arguably the best pitcher in the American League, but is under team control for four years as opposed to Sale's three.
As for what exactly constitutes a steep price, Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com reported what the White Sox were asking for:
Per MLB.com, Francis Martes and Kyle Tucker are Houston's top two prospects and both ranked among the top 50 prospects in 2016. Joe Musgrove is a 24-year-old right-hander who made his MLB debut last season, posting a 4.06 ERA in 62 innings.
The 27-year-old Quintana isn't quite in Sale's category, but he isn't far behind his now-former teammate in terms of production over the last three seasons.
|Jose Quintana vs. Chris Sale Since 2014|
Because of Quintana's performance and four years of team control, the White Sox are within their right to ask for a large return like they reportedly did from the Astros.
It doesn't seem likely any team will match that price, but since Quintana isn't going anywhere for a long time, the White Sox can wait out the market for at least another year in hopes of cashing in big.
Key Sticking Point for Buchholz
With the Red Sox having seven candidates for five spots in the starting rotation next season, another trade wouldn't be a bad idea for Boston's always-aggressive general manager, Dave Dombrowski.
Clay Buchholz is among those fringe starters on the roster who could be moved, though there is one major hurdle standing in the way, per B/R's Scott Miller:
Another sticking point in discussions between the Red Sox and Miami Marlins about Buchholz was the return to Boston, per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.
"The Marlins and Red Sox talked briefly about pitcher Clay Buchholz, who’s available, but Miami wasn’t interested in giving up right-handed pitching prospect Luis Castillo, according to a person with direct knowledge," he wrote.
Buchholz had a disastrous 2016 season with the lowest strikeout rate of his career (6.01), highest walk rate (3.55) and home run rate (1.36), per FanGraphs.
The Red Sox know they can build a strong starting five with Sale, Rick Porcello, David Price and Eduardo Rodriguez in the top four spots and Steven Wright and Drew Pomeranz fighting over the final spot.
Buchholz could fit in that group, but paying a No. 5 starter $13 million is hardly a wise use of resources, though the Red Sox are one of the few teams capable of withstanding that financial punch.
Eventually, Dombrowski will have to make a move, but it will only make sense for another team to take Buchholz if the Red Sox kick in some money.
Mariners' Pitching Radar
The Seattle Mariners have been on the hunt for starting pitching all offseason. They did acquire Chris Heston from the San Francisco Giants during the winter meetings, but he's hardly the answer to their questions.
Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune (via the Kitsap Sun) reported the Mariners were aiming higher on the pitching market during the winter meetings:
The Mariners were linked to several trade candidates over the four days that comprised the winter meetings...
Left-hander Scott Kazmir and right-hander Brandon McCarthy of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Both are coming off injury-interrupted seasons and sport significant guaranteed salaries over the next two years. Kazmir is owed $32 million, and McCarthy is owed $20 million. Any deal is likely to hinge on the Dodgers' willingness to eat at least a portion of those salaries.
The Mariners are not used to having bigger questions in the starting rotation than offense, but after finishing sixth in runs scored last season, general manager Jerry Dipoto has to get creative with a payroll already at $114.8 million before factoring in arbitration-eligible players, per Cot's Baseball Contracts.
Another reason for the Mariners to search for rotation options is because Felix Hernandez is no longer King Felix. According to FanGraphs, the 30-year-old has posted just 3.9 wins above replacement since 2015 and allowed a career-high 1.12 home runs per nine innings in 2016.
They won't be able to find an ace to occupy the spot Hernandez used to hold down, but high-risk gambles like Kazmir, McCarthy or Pomeranz, whom Dutton also noted the Mariners were interested in, would help keep up with the rising Astros in the AL West.