The White Sox have had long-standing interest in San Diego Padres’ third baseman Chase Headley and have the parts to acquire him.
Ever since Kenny Williams was the general manager, the White Sox have inquired into the availability of the switch-hitting Headley, a National League All Star and Gold Glove winner in 2012.
Though a Sun-Times report indicated Sunday that Headley likely isn’t available and the Padres probably wouldn’t trade him until July, the two clubs could have already worked out a deal — the White Sox just didn’t want to match the Padres’ price.
Since before the July 31 nonwavier trade deadline the Padres have shown strong interest in White Sox pitcher Jose Quintana. San Diego, same as the White Sox, likes the pitcher’s makeup, his willingness to pitch inside and how he has developed from a one-pitch pitcher to a left-hander with “two-and-a-half” pitches in just over a year, per a baseball source.
But even though the two teams consider each other a match, with rosters stocked full of interchangeable parts, the White Sox aren’t interested in acquiring Headley at the cost of Quintana.
Headley, who had a .250/.347/.400 slash line with 13 home runs and 50 RBIs in 600 plate appearances last season, is a far better hitter than his career numbers would indicate. In five-plus seasons Headley has only hit 80 homers in part because his home stadium, Petco Park, has one of the deepest right fields in baseball and detracts from his left-handed power. His career OPS-plus, which accounts for park factors, stands at 115, or 15 points above average. He finished with a 146 OPS-plus in 2012 when he blasted a career-high 31 homers and drove in 115 runs.
Without question Headley could easily be plugged into the White Sox lineup in 2014 as the everyday third baseman and give them diversity with his ability to hit from both sides of the plate.
But the sticking point comes down to team control.
Headley only has one season left before he becomes a free agent.
Quintana, who went 9-7 with a 3.51 ERA in 200 innings last season, is a likely candidate for arbitration after 2014, but he won’t become a free agent until 2019.
The White Sox could gamble and acquire Headley with the hope they’ll sign him to a contract extension before he hits free agency. But they wouldn’t do so at the cost of Quintana, whom the team believes can be a mainstay in the rotation with Chris Sale for at least the next five seasons.
With four left-handers in their rotation the White Sox are much more open to trading Hector Santiago and likely offered him the Padres’ way in talks. But as one major league evaluator said, Santiago’s value has been hurt by pitching in the same rotation as Quintana, who is seen as a far more consistent and therefore attractive option.