The Pirates made their first move of the offseason today, agreeing with left-handed starting pitcher Jose Quintana on a one-year, $2 million deal.
The move instantly reminds me of the Tyler Anderson deal in 2021. The Pirates get a stopgap starter in a year when they’re probably not contending, while spending very little money. If Quintana can eat enough innings to spare the younger arms, he’ll be worth the investment. If he can land any kind of quality return at the trade deadline, it would be a bonus.
In Anderson’s case, the Pirates got 18 starts and 103.1 innings, then traded him to Seattle for catching prospect Carter Bins and right-handed pitcher Joaquin Tejada, all for the price of $2.5 million.
A key difference here is that Anderson didn’t have the same results as Quintana. The 2021 season from Anderson was one of his best, from a fWAR standpoint. He combined for a 2.1 WAR, which was second in his career to his 2.4 WAR in his 2016 rookie season.
By comparison, Quintana has six seasons with a 3+ WAR, with the most recent being in 2019. He’s been more of a replacement-level pitcher the last two seasons, though his advanced metrics in 2021 were far better than the ERA.
If the Pirates can get Quintana to anything close to his pre-2020 results, then this deal should work out just as well as Anderson’s deal.
All of this raises the question of when the Pirates plan on winning. They weren’t one bargain-bin starting pitcher away from contending. They would need at least one more starting pitching addition, and a lot of internal development to have a shot in 2022. We’ll see where they go from here, but this is a good low-risk start.