The St. Louis Cardinals are a trade or two away from repairing their starting rotation, and it should all start with Jose Quintana.
The Pirates, despite some flashes of life in this early season, remain several years away from contention (if you can call it that). Ben Cherington has turned Pittsburgh’s farm system into one of the greatest in baseball, and he will be hoping to add to said system at the deadline this year with a few shrewd moves.
Trading Quintana — an asset Pittsburgh undoubtedly signed with the goal of trading this August — is vital.
While in-division deals are uncommon, the Bucs have had no qualms with St. Louis this season. Quintana is not on a long-term deal. This will not come back to hurt Pittsburgh.
The cards need pitching. For the time being, Jack Flaherty and Steven Matz are injured. JA Happ is not walking inside that door.
Quintana could at least be part of the answer.
A trade for Jose Quintana that works
Despite his 2.15 ERA, Quintana would not be all that pricey. If his numbers stay steady, then perhaps he’ll be worth more come August, which could tempt the Pirates to hold on to him for now.
Hence isn’t among the Cardinals’ top-10 prospects, but he’s ranked No. 11 by MLB Pipeline, and he’s only 19 years old. With the right development, he could be near the top of the Bucs’ system in a few years. Here’s what to expect from Hence, according to MLB Pipeline:
“Hence sits in the low-90s with his fastball right now but is capable of touching as high as 96, as he did in his prep days. He showed a plus slider in high school, but his curveball — a pitch with good spin and bite — seems more likely to be his go-to breaking ball these days. Like many pitchers from the prep ranks, a changeup remains on the to-develop list, but there’s hope it can be a solid option in time.”
Pittsburgh isn’t expected to compete for at least another several years. They’re short on pitching prospects, which is why Hence and Pacheco, a 24-year-old ranked No. 28 in the Cards’ system, have been added.
As a result, the true prize here is Quintana, who, assuming he keeps pitching to a sub-3 ERA, will be very affordable for a Pirates organization that could use the pitching upside.