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Hello Old Friend: Should The White Sox Bring Back Jose Quintana?

Is a reunion with Jose Quintana a reasonable move for the White Sox to help fortify their pitching staff for a stretch run?

Jose Quintana Chicago White Sox Trade Deadline Needs
Photo: MLB.com

Sometimes in life, things come full circle. On July 13, 2017, one of the most infamous trades in Chicago White Sox history took place as the organization continued its full-scale teardown by sending Jose Quintana across town to the Cubs. This deal would famously be headlined by slugging outfield prospect Eloy Jimenez, but it now looks like staff ace Dylan Cease was the true headliner.

Fast forward five-plus years, and the Sox, seemingly squandering a precious year of the famed contention window, are in need of pitching reinforcements. Given the limitations on Michael Kopech and the inconsistency of veterans Lance Lynn and Lucas Giolito, the team is in a precarious spot in their run prevention department.

On the flip side, Quintana is all but a given to be dealt by the Pirates. So in a weird twist of fate, could the White Sox turn to one of the players dealt to signal the rebuild in an effort to save the season?

Serving A Purpose

A trade involving Jose Quintana and the White Sox won’t grab the headlines the way it did five years ago. Quintana is no longer valued the way he once was, but he is still a serviceable Major League starting pitcher. Since the famed deal that sent him across town, Q has bounced around between the Angels, Giants, and this season the Pirates. He has had a bit of a reemergence this year after being relegated to low-leverage relief innings with the Giants a year ago.

Quintana currently sports a 3.70 ERA with 7.86 K/9, 2.68 BB/9, and a career-low 0.65 HR/9. There are certainly some positives in his numbers. The Sox as a team have the fifth-worst BB/9 as a staff, and Quintana can certainly help this measure. Throughout his time on the South Side, Q was noted for being a dependable arm that pounded the strike zone, and this season has been no different.

For a team that will have an innings void that it must address given the impending slowdown for Michael Kopech, adding a reliable arm that can provide 5-6 innings per start with consistency will be vital. Quintana would also help give the Sox pitching staff a different look coming from the left side. Gone are the days when the Pale Hose had 60% of their rotation comprised of southpaws. In fact, the only left-handed pitcher on the staff is rookie Tanner Banks. Q being able to come in and give opposing offenses a different look could certainly be a benefit to this club.

Role Player

As noted above and in recent weeks, the Chicago White Sox rotation will be somewhat in flux in the season’s second half. We know Michael Kopech will have limitations on his usage down the stretch, so bringing in a reliable arm like Jose Quintana serves a functional purpose.

This could allow the Sox to experiment with a six-man rotation, giving Kopech needed time off to ensure he remains fresh for a stretch run. At the same time, the team could use a Kopech/Quintana tandem to mess with the timing of offenses in particular games. Kopech’s high-octane, fastball-heavy approach varies greatly from that of Quintana, who has always been a pitcher that relied more heavily on finesse than brute force.

Pairing the two together could potentially allow the White Sox to create matchup problems for opposing lineups, potentially limiting platoon advantages. The contrast in approaches could add an interesting wrinkle to how opponents construct their lineups when facing the Sox.

October Options

If the South Siders are able to right the ship and come back to win the AL Central, Quintana could serve a viable purpose in the postseason. As mentioned above, the only southpaw on the Sox roster is Tanner Banks, and Q could slot into a relief role come October. He has done this before while pitching across town for the Cubs in 2017 during their NLDS series against the Washington Nationals.

Quintana’s ability to give the Chicago White Sox multiple innings out of the pen could be a valuable weapon when the games matter the most. In the last five years, we’ve seen a drastic shift in the way October baseball is played. There are very few starters that are trusted to attack an opposing lineup a third time, and having a pitcher like Quintana available to get pivotal outs in the middle of the game could be the type of thing that tips the scales in a game or series.

Price Conscious

I think most of us can agree that the Sox have a farm system that could be described as shallow at best. I find it hard to believe that this team has the resources available or the willingness to acquire a significant pitcher, i.e. the likes of Luis Castillo, to make a considerable impact. So being more reasonable and turning to a pitcher like Quintana fits the Sox mold.

The acquisition cost shouldn’t prove to be prohibitive for this team. I feel fairly certain that the White Sox would not be willing to move prospects like Colson Montgomery, Oscar Colas, or Norge Vera. A move to reunite with Quintana would not require a return of this type. Lower-level options in the Sox system should be all that is necessary to entice Ben Cherrington and the Pirates. How many prospects and what particular names would be included, I’m not smart enough to speculate on that. However, this wouldn’t be an earth-shattering move depleting an already shallow system.

Coming Full Circle

Bringing Jose Quintana back to the South Side certainly wouldn’t be a sexy move by any stretch of the imagination. However, he would serve a functional purpose for the Chicago White Sox in their quest to get back to October. Q was one of the most well-liked players on the Sox during his tenure with the club, often due to his bad luck that was a function of playing for mediocre squads.

It would be quite a twist of fate if he returned to 35th/Shields and finally got to pitch in meaningful games for the club that brought him to the big leagues. Quintana is all but certain to be changing addresses in the next week, and it would be something if he was returning to a familiar place.

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Former scrub JUCO pitcher

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