By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — After 6 1/3 shutout innings against the Yankees on Tuesday night, White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana may be ready for the city that never sleeps again.
The Yankees’ rotation has suddenly come back to earth after a better-than-expected first 65 games of the season. And now, it appears New York could be the top suitor for the very available Quintana, who signed with the Yankees in 2008 and spent three seasons in their farm system.
The 28-year-old Quintana has looked much more like his old self in his last three starts after early season struggles. In that three-start stretch, Quintana has allowed just two earned runs on 12 hits in 20 innings while striking out 20. This reverse back to high-quality outings has piqued the interest of contenders like the Astros and Yankees once again.
There were 10 clubs watching Quintana pitch Wednesday evening at Guaranteed Rate Field, where Quintana fired 6 1/3 scoreless innings and allowed two hits and four walks while striking out six in his team’s 4-3 win.
It’s safe to say each team scouting Quintana walked away thinking he could help their clubs into the playoffs and beyond. Quintana has a 2.25 ERA in five June starts. He has a 4.37 ERA and 1.30 WHIP for the season.
“I try to pitch the same against any team,” Quintana said. “I did of course play in the minor leagues for the Yankees. I tried to focus because they are a very good hitting team.”
The asking price has and will remain high for Quintana, as White Sox executives aren’t afraid to play a game of chicken with suitors. The non-waiver trade deadline is July 31, but Chicago won’t be rushed into a trade it doesn’t want to make. Quintana is under contract control through 2020 on a team-friendly deal.
“Yes there is an element of competitiveness and impatience involved in this,” Hahn said of wanting to get trades done. “At the end of the day, we get paid to be prudent in our decision-making. We have to make the right decisions. Again, if four or five of these things present themselves in the next couple of weeks, we will be ready to move. If not, then we have to be disciplined enough to wait for the right time.”
The Yankees have some high-quality young players that Chicago would like in a deal for Quintana. Triple-A outfielder Clint Frazier and Double-A left-hander Justus Sheffield were acquired from the Indians last season as part of the Andrew Miller deal, and both are having strong seasons. Frazier projects as a power-hitting corner outfielder with good tools all around. Sheffield sits in the 92-to-94 mph range, has a good slider and a changeup that’s still a work in progress. Triple-A outfielder Dustin Fowler, a lefty hitter, is another touted prospect who has shown promise. Some believe he has five-tool ability.
For now, it’s still all eyes on Quintana and a waiting game. The White Sox don’t see any change in his approach or preparation despite speculation about his future swirling for more than six months.
“When you talk to him, it certainly doesn’t appear to be in the forefront of his thought process,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He is more worried about executing pitches. It would be tough for me to get into his head. He is more in the moment of attacking hitters and his approach to them.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.