Pitching depth will be paramount to surviving the 2021 campaign after the abbreviated 2020. The regular season has begun, but expect the Yankees to make a number of small additions to ensure that — to steal a 2019 catchphrase — there’s always a “next man up.”
With that in mind, the Yankees have signed lefty reliever Mike Montgomery to a minor league contract, per Robert Murray of FanSided. He’ll likely report to the alternate site squad in Scranton, which just played its first exhibition game against the Phillies on Monday.
Montgomery reached the apex of his professional career back in 2016 with the Cubs, when he was the man on the mound for the final out of their first World Series title in 108 years. He’s bounced back and forth between the starting rotation and bullpen throughout his six-year career. Montgomery was a decent swingman with the Cubs from the time he was acquired near the 2016 trade deadline through 2018, notching a 3.56 ERA, 4.10 FIP, and 2.8 fWAR in 293 innings.
The past couple years haven’t been as kind. Montgomery got off to an awful start to 2019 and was shipped out to the Royals in July, where he rebounded from “poor” to “adequate but peripherally not great” despite occasionally flashing brilliance again:
Montgomery’s 2020 was ruined by a lat strain in his first outing. He hit the shelf for two months, returning for only two relief appearances in late September before the season ended. Montgomery signed a minor league deal with the Mets for 2021 but opted out in late March after recording a 6.14 ERA that was mainly the result of a horrific fourth game.
Depth is depth, and there’s a reason that Montgomery is settling for another contract with no guarantees. Maybe the Yankees can help the 31-year-old find his old Cubbie form. Maybe not. Maybe they simply signed him to round out their Montgomery collection and they’re eyeing C. Montgomery Burns next if they can’t coax former All-Star closer Jeff Montgomery out of retirement. That’s the beauty of a minor league deal.