A New Jose Quintana Idea by Nicolas Stellini January 27, 2017 We’ve been waiting for Jose Quintana to get traded for a while now. Chris Sale’s move to Boston signaled the start of a fire sale for the White Sox, and Adam Eaton soon followed him out the door. There were many rumors about a possible trade with the Astros, or perhaps a move to the Bronx. Yet Quintana still currently projects to be the man taking the ball on Opening Day for Chicago. There’s still a few weeks left before camp starts up, and it’s even possible he could move during spring training, as unlikely as it is. At this rate, however, it looks more and more like Quintana will be moving sometime around the trade deadline. He’s going to be one of the best (if not the best) pitchers available, and he most certainly won’t come cheap. He’s been the seventh-best pitcher in baseball since the start of the 2013 season, and the White Sox are hungry for even more young talent. Anybody looking to acquire him, especially with a trade-deadline surcharge, should be prepared to pony up. The Astros certainly fit this description, but so does another team — a team that hasn’t been bandied about as a possible destination, but certainly has the need and means to trade for him. I’m talking about the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals are in great position to make a run this year. While the Cubs likely have the division sewn up, St. Louis subtracted Dexter Fowler from Chicago and added him to their squad. They’ve also added Brett Cecil to beef up their bullpen, and they’ll be rolling out most of that same strong lineup. The one suspect area is their rotation. Adam Wainwright isn’t getting any younger, and Michael Wacha’s streak of bumps and bruises isn’t inspiring. Lance Lynn will be coming back from elbow surgery. They’ve added some depth in John Gant, and still have Luke Weaver waiting in the wings as well, but it’s depth that could be chewed through relatively quickly. The Cards are going to want to do everything they can to secure a Wild Card spot, and beefing up their rotation is one of the best ways to do it. We project them for 84 wins, and a little luck could have them on a better trajectory than that come deadline time. Sure, there will potentially be other pitching options out there. There’s Jeremy Hellickson in Philadelphia, Sonny Gray in Oakland, Ervin Santana in Minnesota, and any one of the handful of starters in Tampa. But Quintana is the cream of the crop given that he’s cheap and under team control for years to come. His contract runs through the 2018 season, with options for 2019 and 2020. His yearly salary will never exceed $12 million during that time. That right there, in addition to his formidable talent, is why he’s going to cost a king’s ransom. He’d also, interestingly enough, be the only healthy lefty starter on their depth chart, with Tyler Lyons out with knee surgery. The Cards can afford that. The White Sox have largely targeted pitching in their trades of late. Yes, they got Yoan Moncada and Luis Alexander Basabe from Boston, but they also got Michael Kopech, and all three of the players that came over from Washington (Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, and Dane Dunning) were pitchers. No, the Cardinals probably aren’t going to move Alex Reyes in a deal for Quintana. I’d wager, however, that Weaver would be involved, as would Dakota Hudson, one of their first-rounders from 2016, or Sandy Alcantara, who’s further away from the big leagues than Hudson but has more shine to him. The Cardinals could also presumably throw in a position player like Delvin Perez or Magneuris Sierra to sweeten the deal. Sheer volume will probably have to be deployed to get a deal done without including Reyes, but it’s likely achievable. Rick Hahn has aimed high in his negotiations, and rightfully so. The White Sox have been admirably deliberate in their incineration of the big-league roster. This isn’t a Marlins-style everything-must-go-immediately sort of affair. Hahn is waiting for the right package, and then pouncing. St. Louis will need to back up the truck to get this done. But it’ll be worth it. Their rotation is shaky right now, and will be getting even shakier with time. Even as these pitchers age out, the Cards will be looking to their farm to provide prospects that hit on their projections. There haven’t been many better teams than St. Louis at doing just that. But when you can add Jose Quintana and his amazingly team-friendly contract to your roster, you do it. This is especially the case if he provides the added push to put the Cardinals ahead of the Pirates and others in the Wild Card race. In fact, the Pirates may actually find themselves chasing Quintana, too, given the questionable latter half of their rotation and prospect riches. It would behoove St. Louis to keep him from their division rivals. It would be shocking if the Cardinal rotation makes it to the end of July unscathed. Pitching injuries happen roughly every three milliseconds, and as I outlined above, the Cards are is going to get hit at some point. Quintana has logged 200 innings for four years in a row now. He fits their team beautifully. If they can get a deal done before Opening Day, they should do it. If they can get a deal done in-season, they should do it. If you’re a Giants fan, or a Pirates fan, or a Mets fan, or a Rockies fan (or a Cubs fan, for that matter), you don’t want this to happen. If you’re a Cardinals fan, you should be salivating. This trade may very well be possible.