Although short on top-end talent, there are a lot of good free agent starting pitchers in free agency. One such free agent is Jose Quintana.
Quintana was underwhelming during his time with the Chicago Cubs, pitching to a 4.24 ERA and suffering with injuries in 2020. Several starters were subpar or hit with injuries last season – Quintana is one of the leading names in that group, and it puts him in a tricky position ahead of free agency.
Before getting dealt for a monster track package featuring Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease, Quintana established himself as one of the most reliable starters in the game. From 2014 to 2017, he registered over 18 WAR, a mark bettered by only five pitchers.
Having gobbled innings with the White Sox, Quintana didn’t pitch as deep into games when he switched Chicago clubs, never pitching more than 174.1 innings in a season for the Cubs. He registered four consecutive 200 inning seasons for the White Sox. Some of that decrease is how managers have changed, some is about Quintana’s control wavering. The Colombian posted his highest career walks per nine in 2018.
Never a hard thrower, there are no alarm bells in Quintana’s velocity. His four seamer is in the 91mph range rather than 92, but that’s a natural consequence of the innings in his arm, and nothing to be too worried about at this stage.
Heading into his age-32 season, Quintana is not going to get a long deal. The best he can hope for is a two-year pact. Two years and $20 million is the in the ballpark of what’s reasonable, though he could end up settling for a one-year deal in the $12 million range and hope to rebuild some value. That’s a risky game, but it’s an approach free agents should consider this offseason with such vast financial uncertainty.
MLB Trade Rumors predict a two-year, $18 million deal for Quintana. How strong Quintana’s position is in free agency will depend on what other starters do. Kevin Gausman and Marcus Stroman accepting their qualifying offers takes two quality arms off the market. James Paxton and Masahiro Tanaka remaining in New York would take two more options off the board, helping Quintana’s cause.
The one-year deal could be a good compromise for Quintana and franchises. Teams unlikely to contend can bring him in and potentially get a return at the trade deadline, while contenders do not tie themselves down to a pitcher who could be declining.
The New York Mets are destined to be linked with every free agent. Quintana is a solid option for the Mets, who are on the lookout for pitching depth behind Jacob deGrom and Stroman. Some expect the Mets to be in the mix for Trevor Bauer. Landing Bauer will probably take them out of the running for Quintana, but Sandy Alderson could look to find cheaper starters and spend big elsewhere.
MLB Trade Rumors tabbed the Red Sox as a destination. With Chris Sale out and Zack Godley heading for free agency, Boston needs someone to eat innings. Quintana fits the bill to slot in alongside Nathan Eovaldi atop the rotation. After trading Mookie Betts and David Price to save salary, the Red Sox are clearly not interested in spending big – will Quintana be cheap enough for them?
The Angels, permanently desperate for starting pitching, could be an option for Quintana if Bauer is out of their price range. The Giants will be keen to add a veteran arm or two.