Cardinals acquire LHP José Quintana from Pirates

The St. Louis Cardinals acquired left-handed pitcher José Quintana and reliever Chris Stratton from the Pittsburgh Pirates in return for right-hander Johan Oviedo and corner infielder Malcom Nuñez, the teams announced Monday.

Quintana, 33, is a steady veteran. He picked up his first win of this season on the same day he achieved 10-year status in the majors. He signed a one-year, $2 million deal with the Pirates because they could promise him a spot in the starting rotation. It was assumed by members of the organization that he would be a candidate to be flipped if he got off to a good start to the season, which he did.

With the expectation that left-handed starter Steven Matz is out for the season with a torn left MCL, the Cardinals’ need for starting pitching could not be more dire. In locking in Quintana, they ensure a stopgap rental at a low cost. Quintana is not a pitcher that comes with the coveted swing-and-miss stuff the Cardinals were targeting — he ranks 22nd out of 32 qualified starters in the National League in strikeout rate, however, he does induce a nearly 50% ground ball rate. and — perhaps even more importantly — he’s made 20 starts this season. The Cardinals, above everything else, need a starting pitcher they can count on to take the mound every five days.

Quintana posted a 3.50 ERA in 103 innings. He has been more selective with his curveball use, which has helped make it more effective. His fastball still has some zing and he generates plenty of soft contact. The results have been clear. He’s enjoying his best season since earning his lone all-star honors in 2016 with the White Sox.

Nuñez, 21, hit .255/.360/.463 with 17 home runs at Double-A Springfield. He was primarily a third baseman when the Cardinals signed him in 2018 out of Cuba, but he played mostly at first base this year. Baseball America ranked Nuñez as the Cardinals’ No. 13 prospect and noted he’s one of the best pure hitters in their system. He will be eligible for the Rule 5 draft this coming offseason unless the Pirates put him on their 40-man roster.

(Photo: Charles LeClaire / USA Today)


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