PEORIA, Ariz. -- A day after Max Scherzer reportedly turned down a megadeal from Detroit, the White Sox secured a young arm and freed up critical resources in one move.
On Monday the White Sox agreed to a five-year, $26.5-million contract extension with starting pitcher Jose Quintana, a deal that is contingent on the left-hander’s arbitration status and can max out at $47.5 million over seven years.
Between this deal and the extension given to Chris Sale last March, the White Sox have locked up two left-handed pitchers potentially through at least 2019 at a maximum cost of $107.5 million.
According to one report, Scherzer bypassed a six-year contract worth at least $24 million per season, which prompted an announcement by the Tigers on Sunday. While their deal doesn’t come without risk, the White Sox are willing to chance it as opposed to trying to acquire top pitchers in free agency and trades.
“You’ve seen the magnitude of what some of these deals have gotten to in free agency,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “It makes sense to try to get out in front of that sometimes, to try to get the price points locked in before the market continues to grow. Not only is the risk heightened of the cost of signing the player but, quite frankly, the chance the player moves on somewhere else also becomes heightened. In our opinion it makes more sense to move quickly and be proactive in these situations despite the fact that it does come with a little bit of risk.”
Considering his resume, Quintana’s salary could have become cost prohibitive quickly.
The left-hander has already accrued 1.133 years of service time. Were he to stay in the majors all season, he’d likely qualify for Super Two-status and become arbitration eligible at the end of 2014.
If his performance also stays in line with his first two years -- he has a 3.61 ERA through 336 1/3 innings -- Quintana would have been due a significant raise next season.
Since his arbitration status won’t be defined until later this year, the White Sox drew a contingency plan into Quintana’s extension. If he’s arb-eligible, Quintana is guaranteed at least $26.5 million and the deal can max out at $47.5 million. If he’s not up for arbitration, the deal would pay Quintana at least $21 million and up to $42 million. Hahn credited his assistant Jeremy Haber for negotiating the complicated deal.
He also thinks the White Sox are in a good position with Sale and Quintana signed for the foreseeable future. With both players signed affordably, the White Sox have flexibility to acquire other players who might help them contend.
“Any club regardless of their resources wants to make sure they’re allocating them as effectively as possible,” Hahn said. “There’s risk any time you do a multi-year deal with any player and the risk is a little bit heightened any time you do it with a pitcher. But given where we’re at and where we plan on going we know when we have an opportunity to lock up and extend control over key pieces it’s a risk that makes sense. … I think any club would want to get a club like Chris Sale or Jose Quintana on terms similar to these.”
EDITS: Non-arbitration maximum of Quintana's account was incorrectly listed before. We apologize.