The White Sox ace Jose Quintana is one of the top starting pitchers in fantasy but how will a move to Pittsburgh, Houston or Texas affect his value?
More than any other starter in the game, there is the likelihood that Chicago White Sox ace Jose Quintana will be traded this year. In this article, we will examine how a move away from Chicago will impact his fantasy value.
To start, picture this scenario from a dynasty league. Team A (we will call Hahn’s Hardballers) trades away their best player to Team B (Dombroski’s Dingers) for a handful of minor leaguers, including one of the best hitting prospects in the game. The trade is fair. Everyone wins.
Team C (Rizzo’s Rally Caps) tries to make an attention-grabbing splash by overpaying Team A for an above-average outfielder with two Major League-ready, elite-level pitching prospects and their first round pick from the 2016 draft.
Hahn’s Hardballers believe they are shrewd negotiators and now expect to be able to overcharge every team in the league in future deals.
The fallout of the Chris Sale for Yoan Moncada/Michael Kopech and the Adam Eaton for Lucas Giolito/Reynaldo Lopez/Dane Dunning trades is that the White Sox will not settle for less than a King’s ransom for starting pitcher Quintana.
Quintana features in an elite group with Max Scherzer, Madison Bumgarner, Chris Sale, Jon Lester and Cole Hamels as the only five starters to have four straight years of 200+ innings with an ERA below 3.75. The very fact that Quintana’s name is mentioned in the same conversation speaks volumes, and you can read more about the left-hander’s consistency in Bill Pivetz’ excellent article.
Good health has been a significant factor. Few starters can churn out 200-inning seasons year-on-year. Even the best pitcher in the game only has one 200-inning season in the last three years.
It is an inevitable consequence of the physical strain of throwing more than 3000 pitches each year, that every pitcher starts the season more likely to fall short of the 200 innings mark than exceed it.
If Quintana’s innings total falls, he suddenly becomes less appealing in points leagues and other formats which reward a high workload. In the era of more than 30 starters striking out over a batter per inning, Quintana’s career 7.40 SO/9 is less useful in roto and other formats.
While Quintana remains a member of the White Sox, he is projected for 13 wins with 3.67 ERA and 1.20 WHIP. Few starters suppress home runs as much as Quintana, attested by his career 8.7% HR/FB rate, so a move to a more homer-friendly park could significantly impact his fantasy value.
The Pirates remain in the hunt for the services of the 28-year-old starting pitcher, and undoubtedly, Quintana’s presence in the rotation would be a significant upgrade.
The asking price is apparently Tyler Glasnow, Mitch Keller and one of either Austin Meadows or Josh Bell. It seems far too much, but Paul Zeise of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette thinks the price is well worth paying.
From a fantasy point of view, a move to Pittsburgh could have a negative effect on Quintana’s value. Everyone expects the Pirates to be more competitive than the White Sox, so there should be a few more wins, but wins are the most unpredictable pitching stat to chase.
Surprisingly, according to Fangraphs projections, the high-profile names of the Pirates are expected not to perform as well defensively as the lesser-known players in Chicago.
Baseball Reference ranks PNC Park as an average ballpark for pitchers, so there would be negligible change in his fantasy value.
- Park factor: 100 (average for pitchers)
- Defense: -4.9 FLD
- Bullpen: 2.7 WAR
- Win potential: 82
Pirates’ Projected Rotation: Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, Ivan Nova, Chad Kuhl, Drew Hutchison
Verdict: It is obvious that the Pirates need an upgrade in their rotation, so it is likely that Quintana trade talks are still progressing. A move to Pittsburgh will have little overall effect on Quintana’s fantasy value, even considering that he would be working with the Pirates’ very own Pitch Doctor, Ray Searage.
Rumors of Quintana to the Astros persist, and this is the deal that would benefit fantasy owners.
Houston is a playoff contender with an excellent bullpen to shut down opponents and secure the win for their starters.
Minute Maid Park is slightly more favorable for pitchers, yet another reason for fantasy owners to be keen on Quintana moving to Houston.
Despite the inconsistencies attached to Pitcher Wins, even the biggest skeptic of the stat would accept that Quintana is likely to secure more wins as a member of the Astros than the White Sox.
- Park factor: 94 (favors pitchers)
- Defense: 3.7 FLD
- Bullpen: 4.3 WAR
- Win potential: 93
Astros’ Projected Rotation: Dallas Keuchel, Charlie Morton, Lance McCullers, Mike Fiers, Joe Musgrove
Verdict: A move to the Astros would immediately increase Quintana’s fantasy value. With Collin McHugh expected to start the season on the DL, the Astros’ rotation needs strengthening. In Francis Marte and Kyle Tucker, they have the prospects available and have shown aggressiveness in the past of trading prospects for win-now players.
The Rangers are another team still in the competition. They have a stacked farm system to offer the White Sox a very attractive package but no top-50 prospects. A frontline trio of Yu Darvish, Cole Hamels and Jose Quintana would spread fear throughout the AL West.
The ballpark in Arlington is notoriously tough on pitchers. Ranking it in the top-5 for hitters, ESPN’s Tristan Cockcroft describes it as follows.
"Though not quite the homer haven it once was, Globe Life remains one of the more hitting-friendly environments in the game, due to its hottest-in-baseball temperatures and relatively small foul territory. It is especially advantageous for hits (1.064 factor), walks (1.047) and contact (0.955 strikeout factor)."
A move to the Rangers would offer Quintana a significant improvement in the defense behind him, which would help offset the difference in the ballparks.
The White Sox are expected to trade closer David Robertson, further reducing the effectiveness of their bullpen. Quintana would reap the benefit from the better bullpen in Texas with Sam Dyson, Matt Bush, Jeremy Jeffress and flamethrower Keone Kela.
- Park factor: 107 (worse for pitchers)
- Defense: 5.7 FLD
- Bullpen: 4.3 WAR
- Win potential: 85
Rangers’ Projected Rotation: Yu Darvish, Cole Hamels, Martin Perez, A.J. Griffin, Dillon Gee.
Verdict: Quintana joining the Rangers would offer little difference for fantasy owners, with any advantage pitching in front of an elite defense for a more competitive team, being eliminated by the hitter-friendly environment.
Whether he is traded or stays in Chicago, expect Quintana to continue to pile up innings this season. He will remain a valuable starting pitcher in all formats of fantasy baseball.
Any excitement about a move to a more favorable pitching environment with a better defense and greater win potential should be tempered by the possibility of the workload of 200+ innings four straight years, finally taking its toll on the left-hander.
If you are looking for more red flags, there was a spike in fly ball rate last season up from 29.7 GB% to a career-high 38.7 GB%. This could be a concern wherever he pitches.