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Angels reach deal with José Quintana to add veteran starting pitcher; room for more?

Chicago Cubs starting pitcher José Quintana delivers during the first inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
José Quintana had an injury hampered 2020 season with the Chicago Cubs but has been one of the majors’ most durable starters for most of his career.
(Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press)

The Angels made a move late Tuesday to begin shoring up their starting rotation, agreeing to sign left-hander José Quintana to a one-year, $8-million contract, according to a person with knowledge of the negotiations not authorized to comment publicly.

The move reunites Quintana with Angels manager Joe Maddon and partially checks off a major need on the Angels’ offseason shopping list. Quintana pitched for the Chicago Cubs for 2½ seasons, compiling a record of 33-23, before missing almost all of last year.

In a videoconference one month ago, Maddon expressed a desire for first-year general manager Perry Minasian to bring in two starting pitchers. Quintana, a veteran of nine seasons and previously one of baseball’s most durable pitchers, is the first.

Quintana, who turns 32 next week, owns a career ERA of 3.73. He produced a 4.24 ERA for the Cubs and struck out 420 over 82 games. Maddon, who managed the Cubs from 2015 to ’19, saw most of those outings.

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Fluke injuries limited Quintana to 10 innings across four games last season. The Colombia native cut his pitching hand while washing dishes during last year’s COVID-19 shutdown and missed the season’s first month. Soon after his return, inflammation in his latissimus dorsi muscles sidelined him more than two weeks. He returned to pitch in two more games.

Ex-general manager Billy Eppler’s influence was felt Friday when the Angels added seven amateur players, including Dominican shortstop Denzer Guzman.

Quintana had been one of the majors’ most dependable starters. He made no fewer than 31 starts per season from 2013 to 2019. Only four pitchers threw more than Quintana’s 1,348 ⅔ inningsin that span — Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Zack Greinke and Jon Lester.

Quintana joins an Angels rotation that includes Dylan Bundy, Andrew Heaney, Griffin Canning and Shohei Ohtani. Patrick Sandoval and Jaime Barria are other options.

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This isn’t the first time the Angels have taken a one-year flier on a veteran starter after a down year. Under general manager Billy Eppler, the Angels tried out several. The most recent was Julio Teheran, who signed a $9-million contract and went 0-4 with a 10.05 ERA in 10 games last season.

Trevor Cahill and Matt Harvey performed poorly for the Angels in 2019. Cahill, who also signed for $9 million, produced a 5.98 ERA . Harvey, who signed for $11 million, was released after giving up 48 runs in 12 starts.

What Minasian and the Angels expect of Quintana, whose most effective pitch is a 77-mph curveball that opponents hit at a .242 clip in 2019, will be known after the contract becomes official. What is apparent is that the addition on its own isn’t enough to overhaul a rotation that finished last season with a 5.52 ERA.

There could still be room in the budget for the Angels to get more help. It just may not be enough to land Southern California native and Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer, the offseason’s best free-agent starting pitcher.

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Arizona officials hope MLB delays spring training to allow holiday-related coronavirus surges to subside and vaccinations to become more readily available.

Fangraphs estimates the Angels’ projected payroll in relation to the competitive balance tax rises to about $187 million with Quintana. That’s $7 million less than what owner Arte Moreno originally committed to last year’s opening day roster. And the total is still $23 million shy of the tax threshold.

Minasian declined to share whether Moreno is willing to reach the threshold after he added relievers Raisel Iglesias and Alex Claudio, shortstop José Iglesias and catcher Kurt Suzuki. But he commended Moreno’s commitment to the team on each occasion.

“The ownership group we have with Arte and Carole, they’re dedicated to put a winning team on the field,” Minasian said last week.


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