Monday night the Pittsburgh Pirates traded starting pitcher José Quintana and relief pitcher Chris Stratton to their divisional rival St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for two players
With the MLB trade deadline now less than 24 hours away, the Pittsburgh Pirates have made their second major move of trade season. After trading Daniel Voglebach to the New York Mets on July 22nd, they have now traded their top starting pitching trade chip.
Monday night the Pittsburgh Pirates made a rare inner-division trade by sending left-handed starting pitcher José Quintana and right-handed relief pitcher Chris Stratton to the St. Louis Cardinals. In exchange for Quintana the Pirates have received right-handed pitcher Johan Oviedo and corner infield prospect Malcolm Nuñez.
Quintana is putting together one of the best season of his MLB career, and his best since at least 2018. In 20 starts this season, Quintana has posted a 3.50 ERA, 3.24 FIP, 7.2% walk rate and a 20.6% strikeout rate in 103 innings pitched.
Stratton is the opposite of Quintana in that he is having one of the worst seasons of his career. In 40.2 innings pitched this season Stratton owns a 5.09 ERA, his worst since 2019 and tied for the second-worst of his MLB career, and his 20.4% strikeout rate is also his worst since 2019.
Oviedo will likely join the Pittsburgh Pirates immediately. While he has made one start for the Cardinals this season, his future appears to be in the bullpen. Oviedo throws a wicked slider that should make him a good high-leverage reliever for the Pirates. This season, Oviedo has posted a 3.20 ERA, 4.07 FIP, 6.5% walk rate and a 24.1% strikeout rate in 25.1 innings pitched. Oviedo joins Colin Holderman, who was acquired in the Vogelbach trade, as potential long-term bullpen building blocks already added by Ben Cherington this trade deadline.
As for Nuñez, he was rated as the 18th best prospect in the Cardinal farm system via FanGraphs, 13th via Baseball America and 10th via MLB Pipeline. The 21-year-old Nuñez can play both first base and third base. In 350 plate appearances at Double-A this season he has hit for a .255/.360/.463 slash line to go with a 110 wRC+.
Nuñez has slugged 17 home runs at Double-A this season, while collecting a total of 28 extra base hits. He has drawn walks a well above averaged 13.7% rate, and his 20.3% strikeout rate is also better than average. Nuñez is an intriguing prospect who should be a consensus top 20 prospect in the Pirate farm system.
Quintana was excellent during his time in Pittsburgh. In addition to turning in his best season since at least 2018, he was a great clubhouse presence and mentor for younger pitchers. An offseason reunion between Quintana and the Pittsburgh Pirates would not be a bad thing, it is also something that Quintana has already expressed interest in.