Reds reach deal with free agent Righty Frankie Montasaccording to Jon Heyman of the New York Post (connections to). Heyman indicated that Montas would receive between $15 million and $16 million on the one-year deal, and Bob Nightengale of USA Today adds that the salary is indeed $16 million. Montas is represented by the Boras Corporation.
With Nick Martinez signed last month to a two-year, $26 million contract, Montas is the second Boras client to join Cincinnati’s rotation mix. While Martinez could still factor into the Reds’ bullpen plans, Montas is more of a clear starter, assuming he’s back to full health after a lost 2023 season.
The Reds’ projected rotation of Hunter Greene, Andrew Abbott, Graham Ashcraft and Nick Lodolo has a lot of potential but also a lot of injury questions and not a lot of big league experience. As a result, the Reds were known to be looking for pitching help this winter and have been linked to a wide range of names on the free agent and trade fronts. A trade always seemed like the most likely route to getting pitching help given Cincinnati’s minor league wealth, but the Reds have also been linked to free agents such as Seth Lugo, Yariel Rodriguez and an old friend Sonny Gray.
Gray’s name could remain in the background of today’s signing, as the Reds would surely like to see Montas replicate Gray as a starter who got back on track in Cincinnati after struggling in the Bronx . After finishing sixth in AL Cy Young Award voting with the A’s in 2021, Montas continued to pitch well in 2022 and was one of the most sought-after pitchers at the trade deadline. Oakland eventually traded Montas to the Yankees in a six-player trade, but things went south for Montas almost as soon as the deal was made.
Montas struggled to a 6.35 ERA in eight starts and 39 2/3 innings for the Yankees as he tried to resolve some shoulder issues that bothered him before the trade. He spent some time on the injured list due to shoulder inflammation, which unfortunately set the stage for his nightmare of a 2023 campaign. The right-hander ended up having labrum cleanout surgery in February and pitched just one game (1 1/3 innings on September 30) last year, giving himself at least some peace of mind health-wise as he entered the offseason.
The Yankees felt good enough about Montas to have some interest in re-signing him this winter, but Montas will now head to Cincinnati for a fresh start. His deal matched almost exactly the one-year, $15 million pact that MLB Trade Rumors predicted Montas would be in our Top 50 Free Agents list, with Montas sitting at No. 44 in the rankings. While $15 million seems high for a pitcher who essentially missed an entire season, the price speaks to the high cost of pitching and the possible upside Montas brings if he returns to his old self.
Montas showed flashes of his quality by posting a 3.13 ERA in 161 innings for Oakland during the 2018-19 seasons, but this past season was cut short by an 80-game PED suspension. He also struggled during the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign before turning in his first full breakout season in 2021, with a 3.37 ERA and significantly above-average strikeout and walk rates on 187 innings.
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