Rockies get rotation help, acquire Cal Quantrill from Cleveland

Nov 17, 2023, 11:01 AM | Updated: 11:11 am

The Rockies hope that they acquired the Cal Quantrill of the 2020-22 seasons, and not the one who struggled in 2023.

But the thing is, they might have the setup to allow the pitch-to-contact, right-handed starter to find his prior form.

Colorado traded for Quantrill on Friday morning, sending catcher Kody Huff to the Cleveland Guardians in exchange. Huff advanced to low-A Fresno this past season, notching a .731 OPS in 86 games and 340 plate appearances.

The Rockies cleared a spot on their 40-man roster for Quantrill by designating reliever Tommy Doyle for assignment.

Cleveland deemed Quantrill expendable following a rough 2023 campaign that was the most difficult of his five-season career. But finances also played a factor, according to Guardians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti, whose team is staring at a loss of revenue tied to the potential termination of the team’s local-television contract with Bally Sports Ohio.

The Rockies have a similar scenario in the wake of AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain’s demise. But that didn’t deter the Rockies from acquiring Quantrill, who has two more arbitration years remaining before becoming free-agency-eligible in advance of the 2026 season.

Quantrill is projected to make $6.6 million through salary arbitration next year.


The die for Quantrill’s Guardians career was cast Tuesday when the team designated him for assignment. Cleveland discarded Quantrill to make room on its 40-man roster for pitching prospect Daniel Espino, who was eligible for the Rule 5 draft.

Quantrill will concede contact. His strikeout rate is low; among 247 pitchers to face at least 500 batters in the last two seasons, he ranks 241st in strikeout percentage (15.3).

But Quantrill also ranked in the top 20 percent of those 247 pitchers over the last two years in terms of the average exit velocity conceded — 87.2 miles per hour, per Statcast.

Last season, Quantrill had career-worst figures in strikeouts per nine innings (5.2) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (1.66). Playing for a team named for statues that are called the “Guardians of Traffic,” he allowed far too much basepath traffic, with a WHIP that spiked to 1.465 after being in the 1.200 range for the previous three seasons.

In those three seasons — which included starting 2020 with San Diego before Cleveland acquired him — Quantrill transitioned from the bullpen to a mid-rotation starter. In 2022, he posted a 3.38 ERA and a 1.208 WHIP across 32 starts, going 15-5.

His ERA ballooned to 5.24 last year, and while his FIP also increased, it didn’t mushroom at the same rate, going from 4.07 in 2021 and 4.12 in 2022 to 4.79 in ’23.

With an infield featuring 2022 Gold Glove winner Brendan Rodgers and two other Gold Glove finalists — three-timer Ryan McMahon and 2023 rookie standout Ezequiel Tovar — Quantrill could find the assistance he needs to get back to his previous solid form.

And if he does, the Rockies will be a step closer to having a viable rotation that is likely to also include Kyle Freeland, Austin Gomber, Peter Lambert and Ryan Feltner, who had some dazzling moments after a September return from a fractured skull.


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