Now that the offseason is officially underway, the New York Yankees and Brian Cashman are already kicking tires on some pieces on the market. As the GM Meetings go on in Scottsdale, Arizona, the aforementioned General Manager of the Yankees and Owner Hal Steinbrenner are set to meet with reporters for an end-of-season presser. With the team looking to address a variety of issues on the roster, Frankie Montas pops up as a name on their radar.
According to a recent article from the New York Post, sources have told Jon Heyman and Joel Sherman that the Yankees were “mulling” over injury-riddled right-hander Frankie Montas to help fill out their rotation. While his tenure in the Bronx wasn’t splendid, the Yankees could benefit from returning their big acquisition from the 2022 Trade Deadline.
Yankees Looking to Bolster Pitching Staff
Frankie Montas struggled to stay on the field following a myriad of shoulder injuries that rendered him ineffective for the team in 2022 and sidelined with injury for essentially all of 2023. They had Montas rehab at the end of the season, finally making his 2023 debut in the final series of the year and tossing 1.1 scoreless frames against the Royals on the road. Montas was highly coveted at the deadline, and the team believed he could be the number two starter they desperately needed behind Gerrit Cole, but it never came to fruition.
When healthy, Montas was one of the better right-handed pitchers in baseball, breaking out in 2021 when he finished with the 15th-best fWAR (4.0) and 13th in strikeouts (207), finishing with a 3.37 ERA in 187 innings. To start 2022, he struggled with command and had some shoulder injuries in the early parts of the summer, but still possessed a 3.18 ERA and 25.8% K% before coming over to New York.
The Yankees, who desperately wanted a top-of-the-rotation arm, pulled the trigger on the deal and believed they would get the Montas who could rival any Game 2 starter, but instead got a broken pitcher. Montas’ repeated IL stints and inconsistency raised questions about his shoulder health, and while 2023 looked like a fresh slate for him to prove himself, it ended before it could really even begin.
Frankie Montas has a strong five-pitch arsenal with his four-seamer, sinker, splitter, slider, and cutter, and when looking at how his pitch shapes were prior to the injury, it’s easy to see why the organization was so keen on acquiring the fireballer. Montas’ arsenal was loaded, with an arsenal that could play to both left-handed and right-handed hitters, which is an advantage that allowed for mostly even splits in that year-and-a-half run in Oakland.
Coming back from a season where he finished with under five total innings of work, Montas will have a limited workload most likely in 2024, as while he was mostly healthy from 2021-2022 before joining the Yankees, shoulder injuries have always been a fickle thing. His pitch shapes and velocity seemed fine in his brief return, but how that holds up over the course of an entire season is hard to answer.
Those concerns will keep his price tag low, but if the Yankees are able to get strong production from the right-hander, or close to what he’s been able to display in the past, you could get top-of-the-rotation production at a lower cost. Having insurance in the rotation is important as well, especially with how injury-prone most of the staff has become, but with MiLB arms on the way such as Will Warren, Richard Fitts, Clayton Beeter, and to an extent even Drew Thorpe, the team has internal options on the way.
This doesn’t include Jhony Brito and Randy Vasquez, who showed flashes of brilliance as swingmen in their pitching staff. However the Yankees address their pitching staff, depth and health are things they’ll need to account for, and while Montas doesn’t make the rotation more reliable, it does help them add more depth with high-upside who can factor into their pitching staff.