Bucs add Quintana on 1-year deal

November 29th, 2021

With a young pitching staff in need of reliable veteran innings, the Pirates struck a one-year deal on Monday with left-handed starter . To make room on the 40-man roster for Quintana, left-handed pitcher Steven Brault was designated for assignment.

A source told MLB.com the deal is believed to be in the $2 million range.

“José brings a veteran presence and, as a left-hander, some balance to our starting rotation,” said general manager Ben Cherington in a statement. “Only one year removed from an impressive run of durability and success, José demonstrated a clear desire and commitment to improve while pitching in winter ball earlier this month. He is a strong competitor on the mound who also brings with him a terrific reputation as a teammate.”

Quintana, 32, is no stranger to the National League Central, having pitched four seasons with the Cubs between 2017-20 as part of his 10-year Major League tenure to this point.

However, the Colombian hurler is coming off his shakiest season in the Majors. He recorded a 6.75 ERA in 24 appearances (10 starts) with the Angels before being designated for assignment and then claimed off waivers by the Giants on Aug. 30, ending the year with 63 innings.

The past two seasons’ worth of work in terms of bulk innings have been a bit of an anomaly compared to Quintana’s career resume. From 2013-19, he did not pitch fewer than 170 innings in any season. Injuries to his left lat and index finger limited him to 10 innings in the pandemic-shortened '20 season.

A 2016 All-Star, Quintana owns a career 3.84 ERA with 1,395 K’s over 1,558 innings. He's recorded a 4.51 ERA in the past five seasons after posting a 3.41 ERA in his first five.

"A couple of teams [asked about me as a reliever], but yeah, I shot [them] down,” Quintana said. “I'm a starting pitcher, and that's my first goal, and that's what was really important for me when the Pirates called me like that."

Quintana fits the mold of signings made last offseason by the rebuilding Pirates, who signed lefty Tyler Anderson and righty Trevor Cahill to one-year deals to fill innings -- Anderson as a consistent five-inning starter and Cahill as a bulk man, though he struggled to stay healthy. The oldest starter on the Pirates before the Quintana deal was the 29-year-old Brault, who has pitched more than 100 innings only once in the Majors.

Brault, one of the fan favorites on the team due to his outgoing personality and stellar singing voice, has struggled to stay healthy despite flashes of dominance over the past two seasons. He didn’t pitch for the Pirates last season until Aug. 4 due to a left shoulder injury, then aggravated the injury a month later after 27 2/3 innings.

With Quintana and Dillon Peters in the rotation for the moment, the Pirates have two left-handed looks entering 2022. Time will tell if this marks the end of Brault’s tenure with the Bucs, who tweeted a tribute to him on Monday.

Gamel gets deal
Outfielder Ben Gamel agreed to a one-year deal with the Pirates to avoid arbitration, the team announced on Monday. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported that the deal was worth $1.8 million, with $200,000 in incentives worked into the contract.

Gamel was the best of the many waiver claims the Pirates made in 2021, as he had a .352 on-base percentage and a .750 OPS in 111 games. His ability to not press for hits while drawing 48 walks is a quality that Cherington and his staff like. For the time being, Gamel slots into an everyday role in the corner outfield, though Anthony Alford, Greg Allen and prospects like Travis Swaggerty (No. 16) and Canaan Smith-Njigba (No. 27) should push for playing time at the corners in ‘22.