Pirates trade Jose Quintana and Chris Stratton with Cardinals

The Cardinals added a needed arm to the rotation and picked up a veteran reliever on Monday night, announcing an intra-divisional trade that will make them left-handed. Jose Quintana and fair Chris Straton Pirates. In return, the pirates receive the right John Oviedo and minor league third baseman Malcolm Nunez.

José Quintana |  Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Quintana was an obvious trade candidate, as he is an imminent free agent at a Pittsburgh club with no chance of making the playoffs in 2022. The Bucs were certain to move him for some players who could help beyond this season. , and as a rental player, there’s no reason for Pittsburgh to worry about moving him to a division rival.

The Cards have been circling the high-impact weapons market, with the former Oakland ace Frankie Montas would have been a primary target. Once the A’s dealt Montas to the Yankees, it looks like the Cards turned to a lower-cost veteran stabilizer for the backs of the starting staff. Quintana is no longer the mid-rotation arm he was in his prime, the kind of pitcher a club would target to start a playoff game. Still, he had a decent rebounding season in Pittsburgh after struggling in 2021.

Quintana has made 20 starts for the Pirates, working at a 3.50 ERA. He averages just a hair over five innings per outing, totaling 103 frames on the season. The protected role — in which Pittsburgh limited its exposure to opposing lineups for the third time in a start — has helped the veteran southpaw, but his production has been good on a fee basis. Quintana’s 20.6% strikeout rate is a bit below average, but he induced swing strikes on a solid 11.2% of his offers. He also generated groundstrokes on 45% of balls struck slightly above average – a trait that appealed to the Cards front office in light of the team’s strong interior defense – and he didn’t. market than 7.2% of opponents.

The addition of Quintana answers a rotation that has been plagued by a few notable injuries in recent weeks. Jack Flaherty is sidelined again after battling further shoulder issues, although the Cards hope he can return later this month. Signatory out of season steven matz, meanwhile, tore the MCL in his left knee and could miss the rest of the season. Although not officially ruled out for the year, President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak recently said Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that it would be “very, very difficult” to bring him back to a mound in 2022.

Cardinals add Quintana to a rotation that also includes Adam Wainwright, dakota hudson, Miles Mikolas and rookie André Pallante. The Cards have the best hope Matthew Liberator as a depth option, but it bounced on and off the active roster throughout the year. Pallante, meanwhile, has spent the better part of the season in the bullpen and could be on an inning limit. Even with a hopeful Flaherty return late in the season, the Cardinals could still consider another rotation besides Quintana.

Chris Straton |  Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Stratton, meanwhile, gives the Cards a veteran reliever who has played a leverage role with the Pirates in recent seasons. He sits on a lousy 5.09 ERA in 2022, but was a rock-solid member of the bullpen in 2020-21.

The struggles this year are largely due to an inflated .365 average on balls in play against Stratton, who is actually posting a 7.2% walk rate so far. The former first-round pick saw his strikeout rate drop from 25.5% last season to 20.4% in 2022, but his swinging strikeout rate of 12.2% is in line with the mark of last year and its hunting rate of 37.3% on the grounds. the plate is a career best (and well north of the league average). He’s also a perennial turnover-rate darling, and 2022 is no exception. Stratton leads all of Major League Baseball in fastball spin rate this season, and the spin rate of his curveball clocks in the 99th percentile.

Overall, Stratton looks like a strong rebound candidate, especially once he’s gone from a Pirates club that ranks 24th in the Majors with -12 Outs Above Average (per Statcast) to a Cardinals club that ranks third with a collective score of +19 in this same category. As a bonus, Stratton will remain under the control of the team until the 2023 season via arbitration.

It’s an affordable bet for the Cardinals, as Quintana, 33, is guaranteed just $2 million this season and Stratton earns a similar salary of $2.7 million. The final months of those salaries won’t have much of an impact on St. Louis’ payroll outlook for the rest of the year.

As for the end of the Pirates trade, they will add an immediate big league option for their staff in Oviedo, 24, who has logged MLB time with the Cardinals in each of the past three seasons. The 2022 campaign is the first where he has performed above average, but he has been quite impressive in a bullpen role this season after struggling as a starter in 2020-21. In 25 1/3 innings, Oviedo has a 3.20 ERA with a strikeout rate of 24.1%, a very strong walk rate of 6.5% and a ground ball rate of 43.2 %.

Oviedo is averaging a career-high 95.6 mph on his heater this season after moving into a multi-inning relief role, and he’s posting opponents’ best swing hitting and chasing rates (13.3% and 33.9%, respectively). The Pirates might be considering bringing him back in a starting role, but Oviedo has been hit hard as a starter in both Triple-A and Majors at this stage of his career. Moving to the bullpen might just be the best role for him in the future, and if so, he can be a member of the Pittsburgh bullpen for years to come. Oviedo will finish the season with less than two years of MLB service, which means he can be checked five years into the current season.

Nunez, 21, was the Cardinals’ No. 13 prospect in Baseball America’s midseason update on their prospect rankings. He’s on his second stint at the Double-A level and is enjoying a much more productive experience this time around, hitting .255 / .360 / .463 with 17 big flies in this pitcher-friendly setting. Nunez walked at a hearty 13.7% pace and struck at a manageable 20.3%.

Scouting reports on Nunez give him little chance of staying at third base, but the Cardinals have focused on improving his defense in recent years and continue to play him in the hot corner. Nunez praises above-average power and a potentially above-average striking tool. A move to first base or even a designated hitter could be in his future, but he adds an intriguing bat to the Pirates’ system – one that could soon be Triple-A-ready.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported for the first time that the Cardinals are finalizing a deal with Quintana (Twitter link). Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Stratton was also heading to St. Louis (on Twitter). Francys Romero announces the return of the Pirates (Twitter link).

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