Jose Quintana's shaky spring didn't stop the White Sox from signing the left-hander to a five-year contract Monday that could be worth as much as $26.5 million guaranteed.
Two team options could take the deal into the 2020 season and possibly make the total value $48.5 million.
"Jose quickly has established himself as a quality major league starting pitcher, and along with Chris Sale, we expect him to be an important piece of our rotation for the foreseeable future," general manager Rick Hahn said in a statement. "Jose brings a tremendous work ethic and professionalism to his approach, and he is well respected by his teammates, so we are excited to be able to reward him for what he has accomplished thus far in his career and possibly keep him in a White Sox uniform for the next seven seasons."
If Quintana is eligible for arbitration following the upcoming season, the deal will net him $26.8 million. If he is not eligible for arbitration, the guaranteed money would be $21 million.
"It's a good contract for me and my family is safe now," Quintana told reporters in Arizona on Monday. "I wanted to stay here. I like the Chicago White Sox. They have a good opportunity for me the first year in the big leagues and I am so excited for this moment."
It is likely the 25-year-old will reach "super two" arbitration status before this season ends and activate the higher deal. Normally a player doesn't become arbitration eligible until they have three seasons of experience. Quintana would be just shy of that if he remains with the White Sox all season, although as long as he is among the top 22 percent in service time among the two-year players, he would qualify for arbitration.
Assuming the higher deal, Quintana will make $850,000 this season, $3.4 million in 2015, $5.4 million in 2016, $7 million in 2017 and $8.85 million in 2018. The White Sox hold a 2019 option at $10.5 million and one in 2020 for $11.5 million. If either option is declined, he would receive a $1 million buyout.
The native of Colombia was 9-7 in 2013 with a 3.51 ERA, fifth best among American League left-handers. A lack of run support last season left him with an AL-record 17 no-decisions. He is 15-13 over 33 career starts with a 3.61 ERA.
"When he came up, he did a lot of things as a young guy jumping up from Double-A that most guys making that jump don't do," manager Robin Ventura said. "He's a tough kid. He's pitched some tough games. He's been given a lot of responsibility for his age and where he has come from. I'm happy. He's a tough kid, and I like giving the ball to him just because you know what you are going to get."
Twice this spring, though, Quintana has not made it out of the first inning. In one outing he was hit in the lower leg by a comebacker and in another he allowed each of the first nine Oakland Athletics batters to reach base. He is 0-2 in five starts this month, posting a 16.36 ERA over 11 innings (20 earned runs).
"It's hard for me because it's my first time talking about a contract," Quintana said. "My mind a little bit was [distracted], but now I'm focusing on my game, and I'm really happy with that."
Hahn took the blame for the poor outing against the A's, joking that he should give a refund to any White Sox fan in the ballpark that day.
"That's part of the reason we try to avoid doing this stuff during the season," Hahn said. "You're dealing with human beings and a lot of money. I guess figuratively there was a pot of gold at the end of that start [against the A's] that he had to get through. That's not shocking that it didn't quite go according to plan. It was nice to see him put that behind him and have a good outing [Sunday]."
Quintana was signed by the White Sox following the 2011 season. He had pitched well that year at Class A Tampa, but the New York Yankees opted to not put him on their 40-man roster and he became a free agent.
"It was a numbers game, but right now it does not look like a good decision," Yankees GM Brian Cashman said, according to the New York Post, not long after Quintana was having early success with the White Sox in 2012.