GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The White Sox, as a practice, don't comment on trade rumors.
That philosophy has served the South Siders well this offseason as they start their rebuild -- and considering that there seems to be more information floating around than days on the calendar. But confirmation from general manager Rick Hahn isn't necessary to predict boldly that Jose Quintana could be traded before White Sox pitchers and catchers report to Camelback Ranch on Feb. 14.
"Boldly" might be a poor choice of words here. Quintana rumors began shortly after Chris Sale was traded to Boston for four prospects, including infielder Yoan Moncada and hard-throwing right-hander Michael Kopech, and Adam Eaton was moved to the Nationals for three right-handed pitchers, including Lucas Giolito. They have run rampant since, with the team in the lead varying but the overall interest unwavering.
Moncada stands as the top position player prospect in all of baseball per MLBPipeline.com, while Giolito rates as the top pitching prospect. The White Sox demand is no less lofty for Quintana, who turns 28 in January.
Quintana reached All-Star status this past season, setting career highs with 13 victories, a 3.20 ERA, 208 innings pitched, 181 strikeouts, a 1.163 WHIP and an ERA+ of 125. The southpaw is known to have near-perfect mound mechanics, allowing him to hit all quadrants of the strike zone with consistency. The well-respected veteran also remains under contractual control for the next four seasons, including two club options, at just over $35 million.
Trading Quintana is not a necessity. If that refrain sounds familiar, it's because the same mantra was put forth as teams pursued Sale and Eaton. In some ways, the rebuild represents a change of direction for the White Sox. They had talented players like these three under affordable team control, yet they still haven't made the playoffs since 2008.
But with the team needing a definitive plan and with the free-agent market lacking high-end starters, Sale and Quintana became prime targets. Teams have yet to meet the White Sox high asking price with SoxFest only three weekends away. Eventually a team will realize the many values Quintana has and how he can turn a good rotation into a great one, pushing a once questionable White Sox Minor League system closer to the top.