clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Yankees potential trade target: Jordan Montgomery

Monty fit the 2022 Yankees, so it makes sense that he’d also fit the 2023 team. It’s a shame the 2023 team doesn’t fit him.

St. Louis Cardinals v Chicago White Sox Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

Realistically speaking, the pitching staff has not been the problem for the Yankees this season. Are they the top unit in the league, as many thought they could be at the start of the season? Absolutely not — between Nestor Cortes’s injury and regression, Luis Severino’s injury and regression, Domingo Germán’s inconsistency, Carlos Rodón’s injury, and Clarke Schmidt’s growing pains, the Yankees rotation has a number of question marks as we head into the second half. Even so, however, the Bombers have boasted a decisively above-average pitching staff that would be much higher esteemed if the offense could actually score runs against teams not named the Oakland A’s.

That being said, there’s good reason to believe that the Yankees will pursue pitching at the deadline. For one, Brian Cashman has added pitching pretty much every year at the deadline — just within the Aaron Judge era, he’s acquired Frankie Montas (2022), Andrew Heaney (2021), J.A. Happ and Lance Lynn (2018), and Sonny Gray and Jaime Garcia (2017). And two, assuming Juan Soto isn’t moved, it’s likely that the pitchers available over the next two weeks will be better than the hitters. Perhaps rather awkwardly, one of those pitchers is old friend Jordan Montgomery, whom the Yankees traded to the Cardinals last year for Harrison Bader.

Although many don’t realize it, Jordan Montgomery has been one of the most reliable pitchers in baseball since he made his major league debut in 2017. His 12.2 fWAR is tied for 44th among the 176 qualified starters in that span, and although his 16.1 K-BB% ranks just 70th, he has been among the league’s best at avoiding hard contact (29.1%, ranking 7th). While nobody would ever have mistaken him for an ace, he has historically been the reliable arm in the middle of the rotation that every contending team needs multiple of.

This year, though, Monty has been even better. His 2.3 fWAR rank 17th, ahead of Clayton Kershaw, Blake Snell, Aaron Nola, and Shohei Ohtani, courtesy of a 36.3 hard hit percentage that ranks 10th in baseball. He ranks in the top-30 in ERA (3.23, 20th), FIP (3.52, 22nd), xFIP (3.82, 26th), and exit velocity against (88.3 mph, 18th). As always, Monty won’t strike you out, but you’d be hard-pressed to drive the ball, either, and that formula has turned him into one of baseball’s certified No. 2 starters.

Jordan Montgomery would, undoubtedly, make the 2023 Yankees better. Even just swapping him in for Luis Severino in the starting rotation would bring some much-needed consistency and take some stress of Gerrit Cole and Carlos Rodón going forward. Looking big picture, however, as much as I want to advocate for Monty to return home, this move just doesn’t make much sense for the Yankees. Truth is, Montgomery is a free agent at the end of the year, and frankly, while I am all for adding at the deadline — as the Phillies showed last year, all you need is a spot in the dance to make some noise — the Yankees should prioritize additions that could benefit the team in 2024 as well. The opportunity cost is, ultimately, too great for a homecoming at this time.