The New York Yankees‘ interest in Japanese pitching sensation Yoshinobu Yamamoto is hardly under wraps, but acquiring him is speculated to cost upwards of $200 million over several years. The commitment to securing top talent was evident when General Manager Brian Cashman and other Yankees brass made the journey to Japan for a firsthand look at Yamamoto’s skills, and they weren’t disappointed.
Balancing Costs Amid Fierce Competition
However, securing Yamamoto won’t come without a fight, prompting the Yankees to explore cost-effective strategies. One potential avenue could involve reconnecting with former southpaw Jordan Montgomery, initially traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for outfielder Harrison Bader.
Weighing the Yankees’ Options: Montgomery and Montas
In a prudent alternative to the high-priced Yamamoto, the Bombers could score a deal with Montgomery and negotiate a budget-friendly contract extension with Frankie Montas, whose recent injury-marred season could play to the Yankees’ financial advantage.
Montas faced an early end to his season, bowing out in spring training due to shoulder surgery, only managing a brief 1.1 innings at the season’s tail-end. Despite these setbacks, Montas displayed promising form, hinting at a return to his pre-injury performance where he logged 144.1 innings in 2022.
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Strategic Moves for a Robust Starting Rotation
While snagging Montas could be a savvy move, the Yankees recognize the need for additional firepower in their starting rotation, especially with the anticipated departure of Luis Severino and Domingo German. This transition underscores the necessity for another seasoned pitcher despite expectations around Michael King stepping up.
In his 2022 stint with the Oakland Athletics, Montas maintained a respectable 3.18 ERA over 104.2 innings, achieving an average of 9.37 strikeouts per nine innings, along with a 73.6% left-on-base rate and a 46.1% ground ball rate. However, his momentum faltered upon his shift to the Yankees, compounded by an existing shoulder complication, ultimately sidelining him for the postseason.
Assessing Montas’ Value and Potential
Despite a surgery-requiring year, Montas’ solid track record, highlighted by 187 innings for Oakland in 2021, presents a compelling case for the Yankees to strike a reasonable deal. While Montas alone won’t suffice, reallocating funds earmarked potentially for Yamamoto could facilitate bringing Montgomery on board while keeping Montas. This strategic financial play could be integral to the Yankees’ rebound.
There’s an evident inclination within the Yankees’ camp to prioritize Montas over Severino, whose recent struggles included a mere 89.1 innings last season and a disappointing 6.65 ERA. Severino hasn’t achieved over 140 innings since 2018, contrasting with Montas’ more consistent recent output.
MLB.com reporter Bryan Hoch suggests momentum is building toward a Montas extension. He proposes a potential one-year agreement worth $7.5 million, with a club option for 2025, as a plausible path forward, offering the Yankees both financial flexibility and a tested arm on the mound.