In a Zoom call with the Pittsburgh Sports Media, a few days before Halloween, Ben Cherington addressed several topics, including their impending entrance into the free agent market. Prior to the following statement being made on the subject, and even a few times since, Pirates Fans have continually pushed the envelope concerning the types of free agents the team should sign. However, the Pirates plan was pretty laid out for them in black and white, through the voice of the man calling the shots.
“In terms of more general interest and approach, we’re focused on where we have opportunity on the major league team and where can we be opportunistic in the market, players that we think potentially fit on the team and we feel maybe haven’t reached their full potential and/or are coming off maybe a tougher season for some reason or just guys that we think we can connect with on a coaching level,”
Players that haven’t reached their full potential-enter Greg Allen-and/or those that are coming off a tougher season-aka a guy looking to bounce back/prove himself would be there main targets. Once again, the Pirates found their man in the form of Jose Quintana; and on a pretty good deal at 1 year for $2 million.
Of course the immediate reaction from many, including myself, was that this exact signing was a few years too late. This goes without saying, but it’s not like the Pirates would have sprung for Quintana’s $10.5 price tag during his last season as a full-time starter in 2019; or his 1 year $8 price point coming into the 2021 for that matter.
It wasn’t until Quintana tossed only 73.0 innings over the past two seasons, splitting time between the rotation and bullpen, that he finally came into range for the Pirates and Ben Cherington.
During 2020, after he had his $10.5 million option picked up by the Cubs for a second straight year, Quintana managed only 10 innings over one start and four total appearances; all while falling victim to the injury bug, first with a left thumb nerve injury and then with some left lat inflammation. For the year he posted a 4.50 ERA and a 1.300 WHIP, which makes his shortened season all the more disappointing.
Looking to rebound in 2021, Quintana found himself in Los Angeles in a change of scenery. Unfortunately the injuries soon followed him during his time with the Angels. This time it was shoulder inflammation that eventually led to the end of his stint in La-La Land, but not in the Golden State as he was soon claimed off waivers by the San Francisco Giants; although his stay would only count for 9.2 innings towards his 63 inning total.
In between his two stops, Quintana put up a 6.43 ERA, a 1.730 WHIP, 85 strikeouts to 35 walks and 1.7 Homers per 9 innings. In short, mostly not great, but the strike outs sure were nice. Hence the $2 million versus $8 million price tag.
So honestly, what’s the upside for a move like this? Well it’s fairly simple. 1) There isn’t much risk. 2) The cost is only a little more than what they paid for Trevor Cahill last year. 3) There is hope he can stay healthy. 4) He hasn’t been a pitcher that relies on velocity to be successful, and even if he was it hasn’t dipped at all with his injuries. 4) Quintana is a name, which in some ways will appease fans, while possibly increasing the value of a flip at the deadline if he does return to anywhere near his pre-2020 form.
Now, onto the downside. It’s rather straightforward once again in that there really isn’t one, which is the main reason I like this move.