By Bruce Levine–
GLENDALE, Ariz. (CBS) — No player has found himself in trade rumors more often this offseason than White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana.
The fact that the 27-year-old Quintana is still in a Chicago uniform as spring training opened is a minor upset. As they’ve embarked on a rebuild, White Sox officials are holding their ground and demanding a strong cache of minor league prospects in return for Quintana. They’re betting that a few teams — like the Cardinals in losing right-hander Alex Reyes for the season — will suffer attrition to their pitching rotations and perhaps be in a vulnerable position to overpay for a replacement.
Quintana had to answer many questions about his status at SoxFest three weeks ago. He vowed at that time that he won’t be talking about trade rumors all spring, but he knows they’ll persist.
“Of course during the offseason I heard a lot of rumors,” Quintana said Wednesday. “As I have said before, I have no control over that. I will keep doing my preparation for the season. That is it.”
Many players have had to deal with trade rumors hanging over them in the past. The responses vary, both on and off the field. In the case of Quintana, it’s a wait-and-see approach at this point.
“Absolutely not,” Quintana responded when asked if he was worried about his situation. “I will just put my mind on the game. I will do my job every five days. That is all I can do. I will spend time with my teammates. I will just work hard every day.”
Quintana, who turns 28 later this month, has recorded four straight seasons of 200-plus innings and sports a career 3.41 ERA. He’s under club control for the next four seasons at the reasonable price of about $37 million. He’s also long been a favorite of teammates, displaying classiness and a positive approach while never complaining about a lack of run support over the years. That’s not lost on his teammates.
“It has been hard,” Quintana said of the trade talk. “You hear too many things about rumors all of the time. I try not to put a focus on that. I concentrate on my bullpens and workouts .I want to be ready from day one.”
Quintana will be a starting pitcher for his native Columbia in the World Baseball Classic, which starts in early March. He was also a first-time All-Star in 2016, when he had a 3.21 ERA and 1.16 WHIP.
“All of that is extra motivation for me,” Quintana said. “I really want to go back to the All-Star Game for a second straight year. That will help me concentrate on being good all season. I really want to go back to the All-Star Game.”
With the loss of Reyes, the Cardinals may step up their pursuit of Quintana. St. Louis has an all right-handed staff to begin with. The other teams in hot pursuit of Quintana have been the Astros, Pirates, Rangers and Yankees.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.