Analyzing Cal Quantrill as a fit for the Cardinals rotation

The Guardians designated right-hander Cal Quantrill for assignment this week. Could the Cardinals potentially take a flyer on him?
Baltimore Orioles v Cleveland Guardians
Baltimore Orioles v Cleveland Guardians / Ron Schwane/GettyImages

On Tuesday, the Guardians chose to designate right-hander Cal Quantrill for assignment. The right-hander had a tough 2023 season, going 4-7 with a 5.24 ERA in just 19 starts.

He missed a good chunk of time due to injuries, but he has been a viable piece of the Guardians rotation for the past several years, excluding 2023. But he may soon find himself in a new home.

The Cardinals need starting pitching desperately, and they'll have to add three this offseason. Not much has happened yet, which may have fans a little worried.

However, when the Cardinals, and other teams for that matter start making trades and signings, could Quantrill be somebody the Cardinals take a look at?

John Mozeliak, as usual, has been very inconsistent with his messaging. He once said the Cardinals needed three starters, then slightly walked it back by saying they would need "at least two."

His latest comments brought even more confusion, as he stated that he would be looking for "two and a half" starters. So what does it all mean?

Does it mean that the Cardinals are looking into different types of pitchers? If the answer is yes, then perhaps Quantrill is somebody they might show interest in as the offseason rolls on and they search for ways to upgrade their pitching staff after a miserable 2023 season.

In this piece, we will examine Quantrill as a potential fit for the Cardinals and determine whether or not it makes sense to add him.

Pros of adding Quantrill

We'll start by discussing why this could make sense. Firstly, Quantrill would be a buy-low type of guy, meaning the Cardinals wouldn't have to give up a whole lot to get him. It might take something as simple as trading away Tyler O'Neill or Dylan Carlson, both of whom have flamed out in the Cardinals system.

Quantrill has a solid track record prior to this year. In 2022, the Canadian-born right-hander won 15 games and had an ERA of 3.38 with the Guardians, so he isn't too far removed from what was ultimately a very solid season.

Mozeliak proposed the idea of the Cardinals adding two proven starters and a potential swingman or middle-to-back-end of the rotation arm. Quantrill could serve as that type of starter or a swingman for the Cardinals. He, Zack Thompson, Matthew Liberatore, Gordon Graceffo, and possibly Drew Rom could compete for the fifth spot in the rotation, or he could just be given that fifth spot.

Since he is a buy-low type of guy, the Cardinals would not have to give up too much, but could also potentially clear out their logjam in the outfield by giving the Guardians one of Carlson or O'Neill. Cleveland needs help in the outfield, so a need-for-need swap could be had.

This could then leave enough money for the Cardinals to sign two top starters in free agency. I've been saying all along that they need at least two top guys, whether it comes via trade or signing.

Cons of adding Quantrill

Now that we've discussed the plus side of acquiring Quantrill, it's important for us to note that there are definitely some drawbacks.

First of all, the Cardinals need three proven starters if they want to move the needle this offseason and get back into contention. Quantrill just isn't that.

While yes, the Cardinals will likely have to explore the trade market to acquire at least one of their starters, they might be better served looking into somebody like Dylan Cease, Logan Gilbert, Bryce Miller, Bryan Woo, or even Shane Bieber.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the Cardinals really need swing-and-miss pitching. Quantrill only averaged 5.2 strikeouts per nine innings, and that rate has declined rapidly since 2020 when he averaged 8.7 strikeouts per game. The names mentioned above are better options in terms of strikeout pitching.

In my opinion, the cons outweigh the pros when it comes to adding somebody like Quantrill. Not only do the Cardinals need pitchers that will help them contend, but they need guys that will help them win games in the postseason. They haven't won a playoff game since 2020.

Quantrill could help the Cardinals, but not in the way they truly need him to. It is for this reason that I think the Cardinals should focus their energy on other starting pitchers. Adding guys on bargain-type deals isn't going to cut it anymore.

The Cardinals have taken too many half-measures over the past several years. It's time to make bold moves.