With the White Sox season all but over, it's time to look toward next year. In the first installment of this intermittent five-part series, we look at the outfield for 2012.
There are two clear-cut reasons why Quentin won't be back for his final year of team control.
1. Mo' money, mo' problems
Quentin is due for a raise off his $5.05 million 2011 salary, and with the White Sox likely needing to shed salary somewhere, Quentin is an easy candidate to be put on the chopping block.
The Sox won't non-tender Quentin -- he's having his best year since 2008, posting a .364 wOBA with 2.7 WAR -- and there certainly will be a trade market for the 29-year-old outfielder.
Expect the Sox to seek a young pitcher in return for Quentin, although they could look at a third baseman as well.
2. De Aza's emergence
Juan Pierre won't be back next year, which means the Sox will feel the need to find another leadoff hitter. That'll be De Aza, who comes at an inexpensive price tag while being a much better player overall than Pierre. His speed and on-base skills will make him the best candidate to hit first next year, and as long as he can stay healthy, he'll be a major improvement over Pierre.
But if De Aza starts, the Sox still need to find a spot for Dayan Viciedo. If De Aza didn't emerge, Quentin could've stayed in Chicago and shifted back to left field, where he played in 2008 and 2009, allowing Viciedo to play right.
But with De Aza penciled in for left field and no openings at first base or DH, Viciedo will play right field for the Sox in 2012, thus making a trade of Quentin that much more sensible.
Rios' contract is immovable, and the Sox don't have the kind of money to cut ties with him (for the record, few teams do). The same goes for Adam Dunn, and trading Paul Konerko would be a terrible PR move for a franchise that may have some problems selling tickets next year.
So that leaves Quentin as the odd man out. He's had a fine run with the White Sox and certainly was worth Chris Carter in December of 2007. Quentin will end his tenure with the White Sox as the return in one of Kenny Williams' more successful trades.
And if Williams is still around to deal Quentin after the season, hopefully the return for him will be just as successful.