Jon Morosi, much to Yankees fans’ delight (or dismay), reported that the Yankees are indeed interested in White Sox ace Jose Quintana, one of the last remaining major-league talents of an organization that has already dealt Chris Sale and Adam Eaton. For a team like the Yankees, who are merely hovering around contention without much money left to spend, this would be an excellent move to make.
I know what you’re all about to say: “But Matt, think of the prospects!” Yes, I’m aware of the prospects. The Yankees have arguably the best farm system in baseball, which is still weird to type and say out loud. It’s true, though, and that means that the organization has incredible depth to deal from if they choose. It also means that they would have to make some hard decisions.
Let’s put together a sample deal, even though that it’ll probably be way off the mark. In the Chris Sale deal, the Red Sox traded Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, Victor Diaz, and Luis Alexander Basabe. That amounts to two of the best prospects in baseball, a prospect around the tenth best in Chicago’s system, and a player who likely profiles as depth or below league average. Sale may be the better pitcher, but it’s close, and with Quintana you get an extra team option year. In that case, the haul should be something similar.
Your two top prospects would have to be something like: two of Jorge Mateo, Clint Frazier, Blake Rutherford, and Gleyber Torres; one of James Kaprielian, Aaron Judge, Justus Sheffield, and someone lower like Tyler Wade, Dustin Fowler, or Domingo Acevedo.
That’s a lot! It should be, because as I said, you’re talking about one of the best pitchers in baseball. And if you don’t believe how good he is, here’s proof:
Y'all: As @DavidSchawel noted, Quintana is really, really good. Everyone is probably on the table. pic.twitter.com/6Yz2rWV8aB— Pinstripe Alley (@pinstripealley) December 19, 2016
There is almost nothing you wouldn’t give to acquire one of these pitchers, and for good reason. There’s also the contract consideration, and Quintana is on one of the best deals in the game: only two years and $14 million remain, with two $10.5 million team options.
I get it. I understand that fans want the organization to follow through with the rebuild and to see how the youngsters play, but you also have to make sure you don’t prospect-hug too hard, because overvaluing your prospects can be just as dangerous as trading them all away. It’s up to the front office to do their homework in seeing which prospects are overvalued in the public eye; having those prospects also gives you the information asymmetry advantage in that you always know more about your own prospects.
Recently I made the argument that with the Red Sox as good as they are, it’s doesn’t really make sense to gun for a division title when the benefit is diminished. But with Quintana, he wouldn’t be going anywhere. He would likely be around for four years, through his entire prime, and he would also be around for the supposed spending spree over the horizon.
It also makes the team a contender immediately, and that’s a good thing! It doesn’t eliminate all the other prospects that would still be there and ready to take their shot, and it would bump a true talent .500 team to something like 86 or 87 wins on average, which is prime territory for a wild card run. Even in a year where the team is retooling, it isn’t a bad idea to be competitive in the process.
Quintana is easily one of the best pitchers in baseball. He is also really cheap, and the Yankees have a lot of great prospects. It makes a lot of sense for the team to make use of this, especially when the free agent pitching market is so thin. If they fail to capitalize, they could find themselves in a position where their prospects have lesser value, or when someone like Quintana isn’t available in the future. World-class pitchers aren’t available every day, so you have to seize on it when the moment is right. The moment is right.