The New York Mets have reportedly signed starting pitcher Jose Quintana to a two-year, $26 million on Wednesday in hopes of bolstering their starting rotation heading toward the 2023 season.
The 33-year-old is coming off a promising half-year with the St. Louis Cardinals after he was acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates mid-season. After going 3-5 with a 3.50 ERA in Pittsburgh, he went 3-2 with a 2.01 ERA and 1.117 WHIP over 12 starts with the Cardinals.
It provides a slight indication that he can still be a serviceable mid-rotation option after a difficult five-year stretch that saw him sink from being a potential top-line starter. After posting a 3.41 ERA and 1.242 WHIP with the Chicago White Sox from 2012-2016 — which included an All-Star appearance in that final year by going 13-12 with a 3.20 ERA and 181 strikeouts — his ERA worsened by more than a run at 4.51 ERA to go with a 1.351 WHIP from 2017-2021 — mostly with the crosstown Cubs.
Quintana provides the Mets with another left-handed option outside of David Peterson that could fight for a spot in the bottom third of the rotation. New York saw former starter Taijuan Walker sign with the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday after opting out of his contract. Chris Bassitt, who also opted out of his deal with the Mets, is testing the free-agency waters and could very well sign elsewhere, too.
Ensuring depth in the rotation is imperative for a Mets team that replaced Jacob deGrom, who signed with the Texas Rangers last week, with 2022 AL Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander. The 39-year-old will pair with 38-year-old Max Scherzer — two veterans that have had some recent injury issues.
It doesn’t appear that Quintana is the final acquisition of the Mets’ rotation. They are still believed to be in on Japanese star Kodai Senga, who is making the jump from Nippon Professional Baseball despite an already high payroll.
Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the team’s payroll currently stands at approximately $298 million, which is over MLB’s “Steve Cohen” tax threshold — named after the Mets owner. Every dollar over that threshold will be taxed at 90%, meaning the current penalty would be around $34 million.
As Passan noted, the Mets are “not stopping,” especially because a major question mark remains in center field with the uncertain future of free agent Brandon Nimmo.