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Yankees Potential Free Agent Target: José Quintana

The veteran lefty could be part of the Yankees rebuilt rotation in 2021.

Chicago Cubs v Chicago White Sox Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

While it is not hard to come up with five names for the Yankees 2021 rotation right now, the harder part is expressing much faith in anyone beyond Gerrit Cole. A variety of question marks remain about starting pitching options like Domingo German, Deivi García and Clarke Schmidt. The Yankees will certainly be looking for help in the rotation this winter and José Quintana is one of the names that may be on their radar.

Quintana is no stranger to the Yankees, as he was in their system from 2008-2011 peaking at the High-A level of the minors. He was signed away by the Chicago White Sox prior to the 2012 season and was pitching for them in the major leagues the following season.

He emerged quickly as an outstanding major league pitcher, posting a 3.4 fWAR or higher in six of the seven seasons between 2013-2019. That series of performances made him an attractive trade target in 2017 with the White Sox out of the playoff race.

The cross-town Chicago Cubs added him to their rotation in an attempt to repeat as World Series champions. The price was high as top prospects Eloy Jiménez and Dylan Cease went back to the White Sox for Quintana. Quintana could not match his production after moving to the Cubs, but he was still a solid rotation piece in 2019.

This past season Quintana never really got started. An accident in the kitchen injured a nerve in his finger just prior to the start of summer camp and forced Quintana to undergo a minor surgery. Upon returning, he made just four appearances spanning 10 innings before a lat muscle injury ended his season. Three of those appearances saw Quintana come out of the bullpen as he appeared to essentially be rehabbing on the fly with no set minor league season.

Quintana is not an overpowering pitcher, with a fastball that tops out in the low-90s. He attacks hitter with a four-pitch mix. His four-seam fastball is the most prominent weapon in his arsenal, opting for the heater 36% of the time in 2019. Quintana also used his curveball and a sinker over 25% of the time, while his changeup was featured only 11% of the time.

Quintana’s profile has some concerns, namely that the exit velocity against him has slowly but steadily risen since his peak years. Averaging around 88 mph while he was with the White Sox, he saw that number climb over 90 mph during 2019. In his limited appearances during 2020 it went all the way up to 94.5 mph.

Contract projections are fairly consistent that Quintana will be in the $11 million range, but they vary on if he will land a one or a two-year deal. The Yankees would likely be more interested in a one year deal if Quintana is on their radar.

Quintana could be brought in as a veteran arm who could help bridge the gap until Luis Severino returns late in the season or an impact arm can be acquired. However, he is not someone that the Yankees should be looking to as a number one or two starter.

That being said, the Yankees rotation needs help. With Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton and J.A. Happ heading to free agency, the Yankees have big questions surrounding their rotation beyond Gerrit Cole. José Quintana is the type of pitcher who could help the Yankees bridge the gap as their young arms continue to develop and establish themselves at the major league level.