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Jose Quintana: Grading the Cardinals-Pirates MLB trade deadline deal

Jose Quintana, Cardinals, Pirates, 2022 MLB trade deadline

The St. Louis Cardinals have been battling to stay afloat in the National League playoff race this season, and are embroiled in a tightly contested fight for the top spot in the NL Central with the Milwaukee Brewers. The Cardinals have been rumored to be aggressive players when it comes to the 2022 MLB trade deadline, and they swung their first move last night.

The Cardinals added left handed starter Jose Quintana and right handed reliever Chris Stratton from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for right handed pitcher Johan Oviedo and infielder Malcom Nunez. St. Louis knew they needed to add some pitching if they wanted to make a postseason run, and they were able to add a pair of solid arms from the Pirates.

When a big trade goes through, it feels like the first question asked is who won the deal. Oftentimes in the MLB, the answer isn’t known right away, because many of the prospects involved in deals won’t make their major league debuts anytime soon. But let’s take a closer look at this deal between the Cardinals and Pirates and see who may stand to benefit from it more than the other.

Grading the Jose Quintana trade

St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals starting rotation has been short-handed pretty much all season long. Jack Flaherty has only made three starts on the season, and Steven Matz is on the shelf with an injury too. That leaves Miles Mikolas, Adam Wainwright, and Dakota Hudson as the three “true” starters on the Cardinals roster. That clearly had to changed at the deadline.

Enter Jose Quintana, who is in the midst of a nice comeback season after a horrible 2021 campaign. Quintana has a 3-5 record with a 3.50 ERA and 89 strikeouts on the season. Those solid numbers will allow Quintana to seamlessly slide into a Cardinals rotation that desperately needed help.

Jose Quintana’s addition gives the Cardinals a solid trio with him, Mikolas, and Wainwright as they close out the rest of their season. That could be significantly stronger if Flaherty can return this season, but he can’t really be counted on at this point.

The other piece of this deal is Stratton, who has had a bit of a rough year out of Pittsburgh’s bullpen. Stratton has a 5-4 record with a 5.09 ERA and 37 strikeouts. The Cardinals bought low on Stratton in hopes that he can find his form from the 2021 season, when he had a 3.63 ERA over 79.1 innings.

Final grade: B+ 

The Cardinals clearly needed some pitching, and they were able to get some in Quintana and Stratton. There are some concerns surrounding both, as Stratton has struggled this season and Quintana is a free agent after this season, but you usually aren’t going to find perfect players on the market at the trade deadline. This is a good start from St. Louis, but it’s clear they have more work to do before the deadline hits this afternoon.

Pittsburgh Pirates

On the other hand, the Pirates brought in a pair of promising young players in Oviedo and Nunez. Considering that the Pirates signed Jose Quintana for cheap last offseason and unloaded an ineffective Stratton for a pair of players that could aid their rebuild, that has to be a positive for Pittsburgh’s front office. But could they have gotten more from a Cardinals team desperate for pitching?

Given the circumstances, they probably got a fair package from the Cards. Oviedo has bounced back and forth between triple-A and the majors over the past two seasons, and he’s looked much improved in 2022. He’s only appeared in 14 games with the Cardinals this season, but his 3.20 ERA is solid, and he’s racked up 26 strikeouts over 25.1 innings. Oviedo has potential to be a starter, but he may be better suited for a role in the bullpen, where he can rely almost exclusively on his fastball and a wipeout slider.

Nunez entered the season as the Cardinals 10th best prospect, and he profiles as a power-hitting infielder. He’s spent the entire season a double-A, and is hitting .255 with 17 home runs and 66 RBIs. It remains to be seen what position he’s best suited for (he’s primarily played the corner spots), but he’s only 21 years old and has shown the ability to be an effective hitter in the minors, making him another solid prospect for Pittsburgh.

Final Grade: B

Neither Oviedo or Nunez are eye catching prospects, but they both have upside that makes them worthwhile acquisitions for Pittsburgh. Jose Quintana and Stratton weren’t going to factor into their future, so they unloaded them while they could. Maybe the Pirates could have waited and extracted a bit more, but they got two solid prospects, and given the Cardinals involvement in the Juan Soto rumors, there’s no certainty their offer would have stayed on the table. All-in-all, this is solid work from Pittsburgh’s fornt office.