DENVER — You’re going to hear left-hander Jose Quintana’s name coming up a lot in the next three weeks, just as it did during the winter meetings and just as it did before and during spring training.
Who knows, maybe the White Sox, 12-4 losers to the Rockies on Friday at Coors Field, will actually trade him this time.
The Brewers, leading the struggling Cubs in the National League Central, are doing background work on Quintana and Athletics right-hander Sonny Gray, according to an MLB.com report, an indication they are willing to part with a handful of prospects. The Brewers aren’t alone doing background work and scouting Quintana, who pitches Saturday, as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline fast approaches.
Brewers general manager David Stearns reminded reporters that all teams are doing what the Brewers are doing on all available pitchers. He also said he’s taking contending possibilities “seriously,” while saying any moves would be with the long term in mind, as well.
Which is why Quintana would be an attractive get for him. He’s 28, and his team-friendly contract ($7 million this season, $8.85 million in 2018, club options of $10.5 million in 2019 and 2020) is just what the Brewers would likely be willing to dip into their farm system for, one that includes five top-55 prospects (per MLB.com).
“A guy who throws 200 innings and is under control for that kind of money is invaluable,’’ an American League executive said. “One thing you need to win in this league is not only starting pitching but veteran starting pitchers who can go wire to wire [a full season].’’
The Brewers probably took notice when Quintana was dominant in his two career starts against them, allowing one earned run with 14 strikeouts and one walk in 15 innings.
Quintana’s subpar season notwithstanding, general manager Rick Hahn is holding a valuable trade chip and won’t give it up for anything less than a significant return. Quintana will take a 4.45 ERA (3.51 career) into Saturday, but his ERA in his last six starts is 2.34.
“If I’m Hahn, I say, ‘When are we going to win the division?’ ’’ the exec said. “If it’s 2019, you say, ‘Who is going to be on that club in ’19?’ Quintana is a yes, so I don’t see the urgency in trading him. It’s going to take a ridiculous amount of players to get him.’’
It won’t take a ridiculous amount to pry away some of Hahn’s other assets, such as closer David Robertson, who is under contract for $12 million this season and $13 million in 2018.
“If something happens, I’m assuming it’s going to happen later on in the month, so at least we’ve had the baby,’’ said Robertson, who returned from paternity leave after the birth of his second child.
Lefty Derek Holland, thought to be a potential midseason trade piece when he signed for $6 million in the offseason, continued to see his value plummet. He allowed seven runs and eight hits, including homers to DJ LeMahieu and Charlie Blackmon, in four innings. His ERA in his last seven starts is 10.16.
“I just have to do a better job,” Holland said. “That was pathetic today.”
Nolan Arenado’s 450-foot homer against Chris Beck in the sixth gave the Rockies a 10-1 lead. Tim Anderson’s 451-foot homer against starter German Marquez (6-4) cut the Rockies’ lead to 10-3.
“I’m not opposed to [talking about trade rumors] if they want to talk to me about it, but they are focused on playing baseball,’’ manager Rick Renteria said.
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