The Cardinals added a much-needed arm to their rotation and took on a veteran reliever on Monday evening and announced an intra-division deal that will land their lefty Jose Quintana and righty Chris Stratton from the Pirates. In exchange the Pirates will receive lefty Johan Oviedo and minor league third baseman Malcolm Nunez.
Quintana was a clear trade option, since the player is an upcoming free agent with the Pittsburgh club that has zero chance of making the playoffs in 2022. The Bucs are likely to transfer him to a team with players that could be helpful after the current season. Also, as a rent player there’s no reason to Pittsburgh to worry about transferring Quintana to a division opponent.
The Cards have been ruminating about the market for better-impact arms including the former Oakland Ace Frankie Montas reportedly a primary candidate. When the A’s sold Montas with the Yankees It appears that the Cards switched to a less expensive veteran stabilizer to be used in the side of the starting team. Quintana isn’t the mid-rotation arm that he was when he was at his peak, the type of pitcher a team would want to pitch in the first an playoff game. But he’s still had a solid bounce-back season in Pittsburgh after experiencing a struggle in 2021.
Quintana has played in 20 games for the Pirates and has an 3.50 ERA. The Pirates have only managed to get more than five innings per game with 103 frames in the season. The protected role and the fact that Pittsburgh has slowed his exposure against opposing teams for the third time in a single start — has helped the veteran southpaw, however his performance has been excellent on a per-inning basis. Quintana’s 20.6 percentage strikeout rate is slightly less than the average, but the bats he’s hit have been induced to swing on 11.2 percent of his pitches. Quintana has also induced grounders on slightly more than 45 percent of balls batted — an attribute that’s attracted the attention for the Cards team’s front office because of the team’s impressive defensive infield. the team has only walking 7.2 percent of his opponents.
Adding Quintana is a solution to the rotation that’s suffered a few noteworthy injuries in recent times. Jack Flaherty is shelved once due to recurring shoulder issues, but the Cards believe he’ll be back in the latter part of this month. Offseason signing Steven Matz, meanwhile, has injured the MCL of his left knee, and is expected to be out for the rest of this season. Although he’s not officially declared out for the season however, the director of the baseball operation John Mozeliak recently told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that it’s going to become “very, very difficult” to allow him to return to the mound in 2022.
The Cardinals are adding Quintana to a lineup that contains Adam Wainwright, Dakota Hudson, Miles Mikolas and rookie Andre Pallante. The Cards have the top prospect Matthew Liberatore in the alternative to the depth position However, he’s been bounced off and was flimsy on the roster several times throughout the season. Pallante is, however, been spending a significant portion time in the bullpen, and might be at an innings cap. Even with a possible late-season return for Flaherty the Cardinals may still be looking at another option for a rotation the absence of Quintana.
Stratton In addition, he gives the Cards an experienced reliever who has played a leverage position with the Pirates over the last few seasons. He’s currently averaging a 5.09 ERA in 2022 but was a solid part of the team’s bullpen during 2020-21.
The team’s troubles this year are mostly due to the inflated .365 average on balls that play against Stratton who’s having an all-time low 7.2 percent walk rate thus far. The former first-round selection is seeing his strikeout rates decrease from last year’s 25.5 percent to 20.4 20% in 2022 however, his 12.2 percent swinging-strike rate is in line with his previous record and his 37.3 percent opponents’ chase rate when pitches are not at the plate is a record-setting (and significantly higher than the average of the league). Also, he’s a regular spin-rate admirer, and 2022 is not an exception. Stratton has the highest ranking of Major League Baseball in fastball spin rate this year, and the spin rate of his curveball clocks is in the 99th percentile.
Overall, Stratton looks like a excellent rebounder, especially when he switches from to a Pirates club that is at 24th place in the Majors with -12 Outs above average (per Statcast) to a Cardinals team that is ranked third, with a combined +19 rating in the same category. Additionally, Stratton will remain under team control until the 2023 season through arbitration.
It’s a reasonable option for the Cardinals The 33-year-old Quintana will receive just $2 million this season , while Stratton earns a similar $2.7MM salary. The final months of these salaries will not have much effect on St. Louis’ payroll prospects for the rest of the season.
In the Pirates closing of the swap, they’ll get immediately a big league player to their roster in the 24 year-old Oviedo who has played MLB games with the Cardinals during each of the three seasons prior to. The 2022 season is the first time that Oviedo has had above-average performance and he’s also been impressive in his role as a bullpen pitcher this season , after having a difficult time as a pitcher in 2020-21. In his 25 1/3 innings, Oviedo is sporting an impressive 3.20 ERA with a 24.1 percent strikeout rate, an extremely impressive 6.5 percentage walk rate and an impressive 43.2 percent ground-ball rate.
Oviedo has a career-best 95.6 milliseconds on his heat source this season following shifting into a multiple-inning relief position, and is hitting his best swinging-strike in the history books and has set a new chase rates (13.3 percent and 33.9 percent according to). The Pirates may be open to the notion of re-introducing him into an initial role, however Oviedo has been a hit for his role as a starter, both at Triple-A and in the Majors up to the point where he’s at. Moving to the bullpen could be the ideal position for him in the future in the event that it is, he will be part of the Pittsburgh bullpen for a long time to come. Oviedo will end the season with less than 2 years MLB service, which means the possibility of him being controlled for by five years after the current season.
Nunez, 21, was the Cardinals’ No. 13 prospect in the Midseason Update of its prospects’ rankings. Nunez is in his second season at the Double-A level , and is having a more successful run this time around, slashing .255/.360/.463 with 17 large flies in the pitching environment that’s a breeze for pitchers. Nunez walks at a healthy 13.7 per cent rate, and hitting at a manageable 20.3 percent rate.
Reports from scouting on Nunez have him with a low chances of relocating to third base, however the Cardinals have focused on the improvement of his defense in recent seasons and will continue to use at the corner. Nunez is praised for his above average to superpower and is a potential above-average hit tool. A shift to first base, or even designated hitter may be in the near future However, he is an impressive baseball bat in the Pirates system. One who might soon be ready to go to the Triple-A club.