It is assumed Carlos Quentin will be traded this off-season.
It was thought he had a chance to move prior to Kenny Williams' "play the kids" announcement, but man, that really sealed it. With certified youngsters Alejandro De Aza and Dayan Viciedo in tow, and shotgun brides Alex Rios and Adam Dunn gumming up the rest of outfield/slow, creaky masher positions, he's technically a redundancy ("technically" as in "we're ignoring that Rios and Dunn are terrible when we calculate this") on the 2012 roster.
Moreover, Quentin is 29, entering his final arbitration year before hitting free agency, is an immensely talented hitter capable of hellacious streaks (including one that lasted 5 months), whose attractiveness outstrips how consistent and valuable he actually is.
He is totally the type of guy who gets traded during a rebuild, or traded during a salary purge, or just gets traded because he's so darn tradeable and also deserving to be traded. I can't even be sure I haven't already dedicated a post to Carlos Quentin being traded already, and am checking Twitter periodically to make sure a deal doesn't go down while I'm writing.
So as much as Quentin's MVP-caliber months, his earnest efforts on defense, ans the nights where a single CQ 3-run HR constituted all the White Sox offense were appreciated, shipping him and his projected $7.7 million salary for younger talent and some moderate financial relief wouldn't be so hard to cope with, as it's a fairly logical move.
There would just be two concerns:
1. Is the off-season the best time to trade Carlos Quentin?
Obviously the answer is 'no', because if you have a time machine, you trade Quentin before the 2011 trade deadline. You trade him to Philadelphia for that curiously large bounty of prospects, which might have been available to the Sox when Quentin's stats were still sterling and his shoulder was still healthy. You wrap him in a bow and trade him. Maybe twice, because the league office is busy that time of year and maybe they won't notice for a while. By the time they do notice you'll be long gone; across the border with all your Quentin cash, the money from hocking your time machine, without a care in the world besides whether or not Brian Sabean's assassins can get to you in Mexico. Probably not, right? Breaking Bad is just a show man, just a show. That s*** isn't real.
More so, the question is whether Quentin is more valuable now, or mid-season 2012. A full season of a player is almost always more valuable than a partial one, but Quentin ended 2011 by showing off the two primary concerns one (as in, 'any person alive') would have about him; 1. He had a prolonged funk where he was barely more than a league-average hitter the last two months, 2. He suffered a nagging injury that eventually ended his season. These type of things can depress a trade value.
There's no guarantee either of these issues ever subside with Quentin, but another trademark house-of-fire streak combined with teams having their optimistic views of their offenses stripped from them mid-season could boost his return. The 2011 Giants probably didn't realize they'd kill for Carlos Beltran in April. Oh wait? Carlos Beltran? Carlos Beltran is lot better than Quentin, maybe this isn't the best example.
An uptick in value is far from a sure thing, but merits consideration if the off-season offers for Quentin are meager.
2. Is it worth it to move Quentin if 2012 is still about winning?
Kenny Williams' "going young" statement was questioned not just due to the White Sox pitiful minor league system, but uncertainty on how much of a youth movement could really be launched with the unmovable trio of Jake Peavy, Adam Dunn, and Alex Rios eating up $43 million. The White Sox will likely have a payroll that approaches $120 million, or at least lives in the same neighborhood, which approaches the territory where a team might as well give being competitive a shot. Expensive bad teams are the worst. For example, the 2011 White Sox...
As far as being competitive, while I'd bet on one of Alex Rios or Adam Dunn not being a festering corpse in 2012, it'd take a drink or nine to bet on both of them of returning to form in a way that made Quentin's bat actually redundant. If his arbitration figure actually stays under $8 million, his presence is less than crippling, and the type B free agent compensation he would likely pull in isn't insignificant. It's decent consolation prize, and Rios and Dunn aren't for sure slotted in for 600 PA's a piece.
If anything about the first portion of this post is true, then waiting around while figuring out if the 2012 Sox are remotely viable and if Quentin is necessary for a playoff run shouldn't be an untenable risk as far his return value.
Ultimately, the White Sox are returning a very similar roster from a 79-83 squad, and any real optimism is of "maybe with some rebounds, and Sale and Viciedo grow-up real fast..." variety. Because of that, jumping on a good offer for Carlos Quentin, saving $7 million or so, is in no way an inadvisable path, but his usefulness and price should prevent him from a Swisher-like deal where he must be traded before Spring Training with no exceptions.
There are worse things in life than CQ.