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Potential Pirates Trade Targets: An Established Starter Looking to Bounce Back



Cal Quantrill, Pittsburgh Pirates, MLB Offseason

This is one in a series of examining potential trade targets for the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2023-24 offseason.

It’s starting to sound like a broken record, but the Pirates need to upgrade the rotation this offseason.

There are multiple avenues for the Pirates to make at least one addition to their starting rotation, and a trade certainly makes sense. If Pittsburgh decides to go the trade route, Cleveland Guardians right-hander Cal Quantrill could peak their interest.

Quantrill, 28, was the eighth overall pick by the San Diego Padres in the 2016 MLB Draft. After a season and a half in San Diego, Quantrill was part of an eight-player swap that landed him in Cleveland and saw Mike Clevinger headline the return back to the Padres.

Quantrill has become a key component of the Guardians’ pitching staff over the last three seasons.

In 2021, the right-hander made 40 appearances, 22 of which were starts, and totaled 149.2 innings pitched. That season, Quantrill posted an impressive 2.89 ERA.

The following year, Quantrill again pitched well over a career-high 32 starts. He finished the 2022 campaign with a 15-5 record and a 3.38 ERA in 186.1 total innings. He finished the year third in the American League with his 32 starts and was in the top 10 in wins, innings pitched and home runs per nine innings.

This past season, Quantrill battled injuries and took a step back in production. He landed on the IL for the majority of June through August with right shoulder inflammation and couldn’t get in a groove on the mound.

In his first 13 starts, Quantrill posted a disastrous 6.45 ERA, but he was able to finish the season on a high note after coming off the IL as a September callup. In six starts during the final month of the season, he looked much more like himself and posted a 2.76 ERA to end the season.

For his career, the native of Port Hope, Canada is 35-23 with a 3.83 ERA across 570.2 innings. Quantrill isn’t a strikeout pitcher, but he has solid command and limits the longball pretty effectively.

Quantrill has limited opposing hitters to a .715 OPS against him for his career, but that number spiked to .782 in 2023.

The Guardians find themselves in a similar position in that they are a smaller-market team and tend to shy away from larger financial commitments. Arbitration-eligible again this season, Quantrill is projected for a $6.6 million salary for the 2024 season, according to MLBTradeRumors. 

Perhaps Cleveland will deem the mark too expensive for their taste. It’s also been rumored that the Guardians could look to trade one of their starting pitchers this winter in search for offensive help.

The Pirates could look to the Guardians as they look to upgrade their rotation. Quantrill makes sense as a buy-low option for general manager Ben Cherington as a bounce-back candidate.

If the Pirates were able to acquire the services of Quantrill, they would have club control over him through the 2025 season.

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