TORONTO — If the White Sox are in fact gearing up to trade left-hander Jose Quintana, his outing against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre might be something of a building block.
Quintana, of course, was viewed as a prized commodity on the trade market last offseason because of his record, left-handedness, age (28) and a contract that tops out at $11.5 million in 2020. Offers weren’t attractive enough for general manager Rick Hahn to pull the trigger on a winter deal, and since then, Quintana’s value has declined because of the worst stretch in his otherwise impressive career.
“It certainly does hurt his value,’’ a National League executive said. “This is what happens when you ask for too much in return. Buy low, sell high, right? They should just hold on to him and not sell low.’’
Now that the draft is over, execs such as Hahn are turning their attention to the trade market. With six weeks to go before the trade deadline, Quintana, who pitched seven innings and allowed two runs in the Sox’ 11-4 rout Friday of the Jays, can wipe away those first 13 starts in which he went 2-8 with a 5.30 ERA.
“If he pitches well for the next six weeks, the White Sox will have plenty of suitors,’’ the exec said.
In that regard, Quintana got off to a good start in a hitters’ park, holding the Jays to five hits, walking two and striking out five. He did allow home runs to Kendrys Morales (his 14th) in the second and Steve Pearce (fifth) in the third. Quintana also struck out Jose Bautista, Morales and Justin Smoak in order in a 1-2-3 fourth.
“I needed that outing tonight,’’ Quintana said. “Get my confidence high again.’’
Three double plays helped, including an eye-level liner to the mound by Russell Martin on Quintana’s last pitch. All said and done, it was a start the Sox — or any contending team — would take every night.
“My fastball command was really good on both sides of the plate,’’ said Quintana, who improved to 6-2 (he’s 5-0 at Rogers Centre) with a 1.77 ERA in his career against Toronto. “I was throwing strikes and getting ahead early.’’
With the Sox (30-36) pounding right-hander Joe Biagini for four runs before Quintana took the mound in the first and adding three more in the second, he found himself in rare air pitching with a 7-0 lead.
He had received a 2.65 run-support average, the lowest in the majors, going in, and his 3.84 RSA since 2012 was the second-lowest in the majors behind Andrew Cashner (3.71).
But the Sox, who won for the fifth time in seven games, gave all-out support to Quintana (3-8, 5.07 ERA).
Left fielder Melky Cabrera hit a home run, drove in five runs and threw Pearce, who was trying to score from second on a single, out at home.
Hahn has been refuting the notion that he passed on a good deal for Quintana during the offseason, his early-season struggles notwithstanding.
Not on the trip with the club, Hahn had to enjoy watching Quintana on TV. He no doubt wants to see more in the coming weeks, or months if the Sox hold on to him.
“He is still one of the highest-impact left-handed starters in the game,’’ Hahn said.
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