8:59pm: The Cardinals are finalizing a deal to acquire starter José Quintana from the Pirates, reports Jeff Passan of ESPN (Twitter link). St. Louis has been on the hunt for additions to their starting rotation, and they’re nearing agreement to add an intra-divisional opponent.
Quintana was an obvious trade candidate, as he’s an impending free agent on a Pittsburgh club with no chance of reaching the postseason in 2022. The Bucs were certain to move him for some players who could help beyond this season, and there’s no reason for Pittsburgh to be concerned about moving him to a division rival.
The Cards have kicked around the market for higher-impact arms, with former Oakland ace Frankie Montas reportedly a primary target. Once the A’s dealt Montas to the Yankees, it seems the Cards pivoted to a lower-cost veteran stabilizer for the back of the starting staff. Quintana is no longer the upper mid-rotation arm he was at his peak, the kind of pitcher a club would target to start a playoff game. Yet he’s had a decent bounceback season in Pittsburgh after struggling in 2021.
Quintana has made 20 starts for the Pirates, working to a 3.50 ERA. He’s only averaged a hair above five innings per outing, tallying 103 frames on the season. The sheltered role — in which Pittsburgh has limited his exposure to opposing lineups for a third time in a start — has aided the veteran southpaw, but his production has been good on a rate basis. Quintana’s 20.6% is a bit below average, but he’s induced swinging strikes on a solid 11.2% of his offerings. He’s also generated grounders on a slightly above-average 45% of batted balls — a trait that has been of appeal of the Cards front office in light of the team’s strong infield defense — and he’s only walked 7.2% of opponents.
Adding Quintana addresses a rotation that has been hit with a couple notable injuries in recent weeks. Jack Flaherty will be out until at least August after battling renewed shoulder concerns. Offseason signee Steven Matz, meanwhile, torn the MCL in his left knee and could miss the remainder of the season. While he’s not officially been ruled out for the year, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak recently told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that it’d be “very, very difficult” to get him back onto a mound in 2022.
The Cardinals add Quintana to a rotation that also includes Adam Wainwright, Dakota Hudson, Miles Mikolas and rookie Andre Pallante. The Cards have Matthew Liberatore as a depth option, but he’s bounced on and ff the active roster throughout the year. Pallante, meanwhile, has spent a good chunk of the season in the bullpen. Even with a hopeful late-season return from Flaherty, the Cardinals could still look into another rotation pickup in addition to Quintana.
It’s an affordable gambit for the Cardinals, as the 33-year-old is guaranteed just $2MM this season. The final few months of that deal won’t make much of an impact on St. Louis’ payroll outlook for the remainder of the year.
More to come.