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White Sox unload ‘excited’ Carlos Quentin for minor-leaguers

Carlos Quentin

Carlos Quentin

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Updated: February 2, 2012 9:58AM

Sergio Santos, gone. Mark Buehrle, gone. Carlos Quentin —he gone, too.

By trading Quentin to the San Diego Padres for two minor-league pitchers Saturday, the White Sox have said goodbye to their closer, their Opening Day starting pitcher and their cleanup man.

Are they making room for Cuban center fielder Yoennis Cespedes? For now, call it a long shot, but the Sox recently scouted Cespedes, who should be granted free agency soon. For what it’s worth, they have two Cubans — shortstop Alexei Ramirez and right fielder Dayan Viciedo — to make recruiting pitches.

“What I will say is that there are some doors now open for us that were not open just yesterday because of savings of dollars,” general manager Ken Williams said. “But which direction we are heading with that, it would be counterproductive in getting something done to say we are deciding to go down that road.

“We can take some of that little bit of payroll we cleared and invest it in something that helps the major-league club now, or something that helps on the horizon with another prospect. We could end up making this a 3-for-1 deal instead of a 2-for-1, albeit with two guys we really like.”

By adding right-hander Simon Castro and lefty Pedro Hernandez from the Padres’ farm system, to go with Nestor Molina from the Toronto Blue Jays in the December trade for Santos, Williams is replenishing his lean farm system.

A Quentin trade, even after pitcher John Danks was given a five-year, $65 million extension Wednesday, wasn’t unexpected. Quentin would’ve made about $7 million in his arbitration year and can become a free agent after 2012. The trade had been in the works for about 10 days

“San Diego came back and put something on the table that attracted us,’’ Williams said. “Both those guys we can see pitching very quickly here.’’

The 6-5 Castro, 23, was the key to the trade. He was the Padres’ top pitching prospect in 2009, but he hit a bump at Class AAA Tucson in 2011 and went 7-8 with a 5.63 ERA in 115 combined innings between Class AA San Antonio and Tucson.

Williams said the Sox know the mechanical issues that troubled Castro and that he’s over back soreness that also affected his delivery.

“On tape, he reminds me a lot of Jose Contreras,’’ Williams said.

The 5-10, 200-pound Hernandez is a “strike machine,” Williams said. He was 10-3 with a 3.49 ERA over 116 combined innings last season.

“We think he can be another rotation guy, as well,’’ Williams said.

Quentin, San Diego’s high school athlete of the year in 2000, seemed happy to be going where he has a home.

“I have a lot of emotions in my heart for teammates,’’ Quentin said. “We did underachieve, and most of the guys in the clubhouse will admit that.’’

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