The White Sox are only two trades into their rebuild, and already they have climbed in organizational prospect rankings from a bottom-10 outfit to top-10 material.
First, the Sox sent five-time All-Star Chris Sale to the Red Sox for infielder Yoan Moncada, right-hander Michael Kopech, outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe and right-hander Victor Diaz. Then, they sent outfielder Adam Eaton to the Nationals for right-handers Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning.
Baseball America’s recently released top-10 list for Sox prospects looks as follows, with only four holdovers in it. Six of the aforementioned seven prospects acquired are on the list, including the top three and four of the top five:
1. Moncada, 2B-3B
2. Giolito, RHP
3. Lopez, RHP
4. Zack Collins, C
5. Kopech, RHP
6. Zack Burdi, RHP
7. Basabe, OF
8. Carson Fulmer, RHP
9. Spencer Adams, RHP
10. Dunning, RHP
The bottom two on the list stand to be dropped off if and when general manager Rick Hahn trades his other prime chip, left-hander Jose Quintana, 27. The Sox have discussed Quintana, a remarkably steady and consistent No. 2 starter since 2013 and an All-Star in 2016, with the Astros, Pirates, Yankees and Braves, all of whom are equipped with enough prospects to make a deal.
While the Quintana trade rumors have churned of late, some of it stems from discussions that are now weeks old. What’s known is that Hahn won’t pull the trigger on a trade until he receives a return that’s comparable to what he garnered for Sale and Eaton.
He said as much after those trades, knowing Quintana’s value, barring an injury or poor start to 2017, also will be rich during the season. Such trades likely will go down next offseason, as well.
Quintana’s value stems from his age, performance and contract. He has thrown at least 200 innings in each of the last four seasons, and he has had ERAs of 3.51, 3.32, 3.36 and 3.20. His team-friendly deal calls for $7 million in 2017 and $8.85 million in 2018 with club options for $10.5 million in 2019 and 2020.
Meanwhile, a trade market also exists for closer David Robertson and third baseman Todd Frazier. Robertson has two years left on his four-year, $46 million contract, which looks more affordable after Aroldis Chapman (five years, $86 million) and Kenley Jansen (five years, $80 million) signed. And Frazier can become a free agent for the first time after next season.
The Sox aim to stockpile as many top-tier prospects as they can, let it all shake out for the next two or three years and see a significant percentage of them meld with young holdovers such as left-hander Carlos Rodon and shortstop Tim Anderson to produce a deeper roster than they have had.
“This is just the start of what’s going to be a long process,’’ Hahn said after trading Sale and Eaton. “Just because we want it done quickly doesn’t mean it’s going to get done quickly. We have to react to the market, react to our players’ value, react to how our players develop.’’