The Atlanta Braves may have finished 2nd in race for Quintana

DENVER, CO - JULY 08: Starting pitcher Jose Quintana #62 of the Chicago White Sox throws in the sixth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on July 8, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - JULY 08: Starting pitcher Jose Quintana #62 of the Chicago White Sox throws in the sixth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on July 8, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Jose Quintana is now a Cub, but if this guess is correct, the Atlanta Braves were in the hunt down to the last couple of days.

A story today by Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune fills in most of the key details about how the Cubs’ acquisition of Jose Quintana came to fruition.  There is one aspect that’s missing, though, and for Atlanta Braves‘ fans, it could be the most intriguing:  the identity of the ‘mystery team’.

Her report is detailed enough to recognize that there was certainly an aggressive-minded club driving the White Sox toward a deal… until the Cubs were asked about their interest and given specific parameters that they needed to meet.

The initiation of the deal came Sunday [July 9], when [White Sox GM Rick] Hahn texted [Cubs President of BB Ops Theo] Epstein to let him know the negotiations for Quintana were likely to come to a head over the next few days. Hahn said he was direct that the deal had to begin with Jimenez and Cease.“If they were interested, then now was the time to engage,” Hahn said.

Okay… not terribly surprising, though the notion that ‘Jimenez and Cease’ had to be in any deal is noteworthy, for that strongly indicates that a price floor had been set… probably by another team.

Here’s where Chicago-base baseball analyst for WSCR-AM radio Bruce Levine steps in:

We know the other teams that were looking for starting pitching.  Duh. That includes Houston (chiefly) and the Yankees.  But due to the costs involved (i.e., the number and quality of prospects that would be required), it would only be those teams.

Unless the Braves were in on the deal – the one other team that had the potential to blow everyone else away.

The Astros have a slate of minor league talent that probably rivaled the Cubs, but they would be highly reluctant to move their best prospects – especially since they’ve actually been forced to go ahead and use pitchers Francis Martes and David Paulino this season.

The Yankees are on record as saying they are equally reluctant, given that they have likewise needed to promote some of their best – and one of those blew out a knee in his first game.  They also don’t wish to spend everything they just got.

That leaves the Braves.

How close was it?

[Hahn] also said the interest remained “very strong” through Wednesday, and the Sox were even in negotiations with a different team Saturday that prompted them to consider scratching Quintana for his final start before the All-Star break against the Rockies. But it wasn’t close enough to pull him out.

That’s getting pretty far down the trade route road.

If you scan the Baseball America Top 100 prospects list just released (which I trust a LOT more than MLB’s roster), then here’s what the Cubs received:

The Braves’ prospects on this list are:

  • 10 Acuna
  • 23 Allard
  • 25 Albies
  • 33 Soroka
  • 41 Wright (not yet eligible to be traded – even if they wanted to)
  • 42 Newcomb
  • 55 Anderson
  • 71 Maitan (best candidate to jump up a lot higher by the next list date)
  • 76 Gohara

It’s a fair question to ask what the Braves might have offered.  It seems likely from the urgent tone of Kane’s report of the trade timeline that had the Cubs said ‘no’, then Quintana might be a Brave today.

If it required Jimenez and Cease to sway Rick Hahn away from the Braves, then we can guess what the offer might have been centered around:  a top-ish prospect and another in the Top 100.

More from Tomahawk Take

Acuna – probably untouchable, though there are reports that the White Sox asked for him.  Jon Heyman concludes that the deal wasn’t close, but the Chicago writers seem to have drawn a different conclusion.

  • Albies – they have Moncada; don’t need Albies unless they want to replace Tim Anderson as SS… and they might, for if a request for Acuna was rejected, it almost certainly would require Albies to even keep the conversation going.
  • Wright – could not be dealt; seriously doubt the Braves would even if he had been eligible
  • Newcomb – Would you want people thinking that Quintana effective cost the Braves Newcomb and Andrelton Simmons?
  • Maitan – uh, no.
  • The other pitchers?  “Maybe” on each one.
  • So that’s probably two from a list of Albies, Soroka, Allard, Anderson, and Gohara – or most likely Albies plus one of the pitchers.  Sure, there would have been a couple of others off the Top 100 list as well (maybe like a Lucas Sims, Dustin Peterson).

    But it didn’t happen.

    At the same time, note those words from Bruce Levine:  “Atlanta is still in the starting pitching marketplace.”

    Next: The Morning Chop...Acuna is... wow

    Stay tuned…