BRADENTON, Fla. -- The offseason is a time for bold moves. It's also an opportunity to make bold predictions.
Offseason forecasts of any kind are a challenging exercise, and it's perhaps even more difficult to anticipate transactions, especially trades. But we'll stay within the realm of reality with the Pirates and boldly predict Pittsburgh will acquire left-hander Jose Quintana from the Chicago White Sox.
The Pirates have been linked to Quintana for weeks, with ESPN's Buster Olney first predicting the Bucs have "worked hard" to acquire the veteran starter. Multiple reports have depicted the Pirates and Astros as the leading candidates to land Quintana. So while it's far from guaranteed, it's at least possible.
Quintana is young, about to turn 28 years old, and his contract is a bargain ideally suited for a lower-budget team like the Pirates. He is owed $7 million this year and $8.85 million in 2018 with club options for '19 ($10.5 million) and '19 ($11.5 million).
He would provide certainty in the rotation, having averaged 204 innings the last four seasons. During that stretch he's posted a 3.35 ERA, and his numbers might tick up even further in the National League, particularly pitching half his games at PNC Park.
Quintana would also deepen the rotation, pushing Ivan Nova into the fourth spot and, most likely, right-hander Chad Kuhl into the fifth spot. If they advance to the postseason, they would have the makings of a formidable rotation in Gerrit Cole, Quintana, Jameson Taillon and Nova, with respectable depth in Kuhl and a handful of other young arms.
The acquisition cost would be high and essentially unprecedented for general manager Neal Huntington. But the Pirates have a contractually controlled core and a deep organization led by high-end prospects. They could replenish their system in the future by dealing Andrew McCutchen and eventually maybe even Cole.
Life won't be easy in the NL Central the next few years with the reigning World Series champion Cubs and the perennially contending Cardinals. But adding a proven arm like Quintana would thrust the Pirates back into the postseason mix, help them capitalize on keeping McCutchen this season and send a strong message to their fans.
Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.