A Cardinals trade for a Jose Quintana upgrade

Now that Jose Quintana has signed with the Mets, the Cardinals are left to search for another arm to bolster their rotation. 

While the St. Louis Cardinals were busy looking to sign their replacement for legendary catcher Yadier Molina, Jose Quintana took the opportunity to sign with the team showing him the money.

On Wednesday, the Cardinals signed Willson Contreras to a reported 5-year $87.5 million contract. Earlier Wednesday, Quintana reportedly signed a two-year $26 million contract with the Mets.

With their catcher signed, there was hope Contreras and Quintana could be reunited. Contreras did consult with Quintana to gauge the Cardinals’ environment before the end of the 2022 season. Quintana had talked up the Cardinals while indicating he would like to return to the team for which he salvaged his 2022 season following a trade from the Pirates. He did start the NL Wild Card game for the Cardinals against the Phillies.

Now that Quintana has signed the Mets, the Cardinals are left with a rotation that includes Adam Wainwright, Miles Mikolas, Jordan Montgomery, Jack Flaherty, and either Matthew Liberatore, Dakota Hudson, Steven Matz, or Andre Pallante. Safe to say there’s plenty of instability there.

Wainwright will be competing in his final season, Mikolas will be in the last year of his contract with the Cardinals, Montgomery and Flaherty will each be in their last years of arbitration, becoming free agents in 2024. Matz and Hudson both struggled, the former with with injury and the latter with performance. Pallante impressed in his jump to the Cardinals from AA Springfield. Liberatore spent some time with the Cardinals as he competed in spot starts but returned to Memphis after each appearance.

With so much instability, the Cardinals should consider trading to bolster their rotation.

The Cardinals should make a trade with Marlins for Pablo Lopez

Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak is likely not keen on trading with the Marlins again. They did trade Sandy Alcantra to the Marlins for Marcell Ozuna. While the deal was exciting then, Ozuna’s downfall and Alcantra winning this year’s NL Cy Young don’t help Mozeliak’s confidence.

But Lopez would be a great fit with the Cardinals. The 26-year-old righty pitcher has two years of arbitration before becoming a free agent in 2025. In 32 games, he was 10-10 on the season. He pitched 180 innings and threw 174 strikeouts.

Lopez primarily uses a four-seam fastball and a changeup. He had a 47.1-percent ground-ball rate in 2022. Imagine Lopez playing in front of that outstanding infield defense with Nolan Arenado, Tommy Edman, and Paul Goldschmidt. And now Willson Contreras is behind the plate. He could also benefit from playing with Wainwright in his final season and picking up several tips and tricks along the way.

The Marlins will likely want pitching and a good, young outfielder. The Cardinals have plenty of each, but some untouchables like Jordan Walker. The Cardinals could offer up a pitcher such as Zack Thompson or Matthew Liberatore and a young power-hitting outfielder such as Juan Yepez or Alec Burleson.

Mozeliak still has an offseason to-do list to check off, and this should be one of the moves he considers.

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