By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — The price of poker is still high for the services of White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana.
After making his second start of the season Sunday in a 4-1 loss to the Twins, the market for Quintana may be falling into place for a deal sooner than thought. Rumored to be deal for the last six months, the 28-year-old Quintana should bring back top talent for the White Sox as they rebuild for their future.
After a serious injury to right-hander Collin McHugh, the Astros are a team that should be front and center in negotiations for Quintana. The team’s No. 3 starter, McHugh will miss at least six weeks with a posterior impingement of his right elbow. Suddenly, the Astros’ need for a quality pitcher like Quintana is even more pronounced.
Houston has a highly touted farm system and previously has had trade talks with Chicago about Quintana. Other clubs to express interest in Quintana are the Yankees, Braves and most recently the Cardinals.
On Sunday, the scouts in attendance at Guaranteed Rate Field liked what they saw from Quintana, who threw 6 1/3 innings and allowed two run on five hits and one walk while striking out seven. He looked like the Quintana of usual after a rough Opening Day start in which he was roughed up in allowing three homers.
“I felt really good this time out,” Quintana said. “My command was better today. I gave up two runs. It was certainly better than last time.”
One questions for teams interested in Quintana is whether he’s a No. 1 or No. 2 starter on a championship contender. That evaluation will help determine the exact package of young players that the White Sox will insist upon in any deal.
For now, Quintana remains Chicago’s ace.
“He showed you his mettle by maneuvering through some trouble today,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He shows you the wherewithal, tenacity and focus on continuing to pitch. That to me shows you what a No. 1-type pitcher does. He is able to work with his stuff, no matter what it is to keep you in a ball game.”
Like many clubs, the Astros would prefer to see if they have internal solutions in the wake of McHugh’s diagnosis, but they should remain interested in Quintana moving forward. Quintana is under team control through 2021 for around $38 million
“We all know Quintana is a top-of-the-rotation guy,” a National League scout in attendance Sunday said. “Chicago must decide when and how much they need back for this guy. His ability and long, affordable contract control still make him extremely attractive.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.