White Sox trade for outfielder Quentin
Corner prospect talented, but has battled injuries over years
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The best-case scenario for Carlos Quentin, in regard to his debut season with the White Sox in 2008, features the 25-year-old opening up as the team's starting left fielder.
Quentin's name still has to be written in pencil into that particular lineup card, however. Even after acquiring the talented right-handed hitter in a trade from Arizona early on in Monday's first day of baseball's Winter Meetings, general manager Ken Williams stated later in the day that the White Sox still were not finished looking for an outfield upgrade.
"It is still a picture that is being painted," said Williams during his daily Winter Meetings' briefing with the Chicago media. "We're still going to pursue some other possibilities, some other avenues."
Those specific outfield avenues present more than a few roadblocks holding up possible moves during the White Sox stay in Nashville, Tenn. For example, the White Sox have reported interest in Boston center fielder Coco Crisp, but the Red Sox entrance in the Johan Santana sweepstakes could have an impact as to whether Crisp stays or goes.
A far-reaching dream of adding on Miguel Cabrera from Florida, in exchange for a bevy of young talent, seems only possible if the much-talked-about Cabrera matchup falls through between the Angels and Florida. The White Sox potential interest in outfielder Kosuke Fukudome hinges on whether the free agent decides to leave Japan to play in the United States and whether the White Sox can outbid or provide the right fit compared to the plethora of Major League suitors for his services.
When asked in general terms concerning the White Sox interest in Japanese players on Monday, Williams provided an equally broad answer, with a chance to read between the lines.
"The Japanese League has shown itself to be a league in which the players, the best players, can be brought over here and perform at a high level," Williams said. "So, whether it is Japan or any other countries, we'll look at all of them."
Free agency also appears to be an avenue for upgrade for the White Sox, featuring Aaron Rowand as a specific target. Rowand told MLB.com last week in Las Vegas that the White Sox certainly weren't out of the picture as potential suitors, adding that, "I would never count Kenny out of anything."
Williams did not address specific negotiations involving Rowand, when asked if he planned to talk with Craig Landis, Rowand's agent, in Nashville.
"We're going to talk to every free agent that we are interested in, and continue down the roads we've been going down, since whatever date in November that they declared for free agency," Williams said.
Even with an artistic eye on completing the big picture that is the 2008 White Sox, Williams seemed pleased with the strokes he had taken on Monday in acquiring Quentin. The potential certainly is evident, when evaluating Arizona's top pick in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft, with Quentin hitting .301, knocking out 21 home runs and driving in 89 runs for Triple-A Tucson in 2005. Quentin also has an impressive career Minor League on-base percentage of .427 over 1,337 at-bats.
Quentin battled injuries for much of the 2007 season, leaving him with a .214 average, five home runs and 31 RBIs for Arizona. The problems began with a left shoulder issue suffered while swinging the bat during Spring Training, and he worked through hamstring problems in August, leading to Justin Upton eventually taking over the starting right field spot.
This left shoulder problem was repaired through arthroscopic surgery in October, and Quentin hopes his current rehab path will have him ready for Spring Training in February. Quentin suffered a Type 2 tear in his labrum and a tear in his rotator cuff, which both had to be anchored back down.
Currently, Quentin has between 95 and 100 percent range of motion, and he's strengthening the shoulder with light weights. When January rolls around, Quentin plans to start hitting off of a tee and gradually progress to live hacks.
"My healing process has been great, all positive," Quentin told MLB.com on Monday evening. "I feel strongly I will be ready [for Spring Training], if everything continues going accordingly."
"Yeah, he can hit, he's an absolute hitter, and he can get on base. He's solid defensively and he's going to be healthy," Williams added. "I talked to him today, quite extensively, about that, but he's also a tough kid, a tough kid. I think he's Chicago tough, which is important."
Chris Carter, 20, who hit .291 for Class A Kannapolis last season with 25 home runs and 93 RBIs, was shipped to Arizona in exchange for Quentin. The White Sox also designated for assignment left-handed starter Heath Phillips to make room for Quentin on the 40-man roster.
Along with the possibility of becoming the starting left fielder, Quentin also could spell veterans Jim Thome and Jermaine Dye on occasion, according to Williams. Then again, the outfield picture could change again as Williams tries to add the final touches to his creation.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.