HomeMLB RumorsRangers Interested In Reunion With Jordan Montgomery

Rangers Interested In Reunion With Jordan Montgomery

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Left-hander Jordan Montgomery figures to be among the most sought-after free agents on the starting pitching market this offseason. With righty Aaron Nola having already returned to the Phillies on a seven-year deal earlier this week, only recently-posted right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto and reigning NL Cy Young award winner Blake Snell compare rank ahead of Montgomery on MLBTR’s Top 50 free agents list in terms of starting pitching options for 2024. While the Yankees, Cardinals and Red Sox have both already been connected to the southpaw this offseason, Montgomery is also receiving interest from the team he just won the World Series with. Per Jon Heyman of the New York Post, the Rangers “hope” that they’ll be able to bring Montgomery back into the fold this offseason.

That’s hardly a surprise, given the excellent form he showed since being shipped to Texas by St. Louis over the summer. In 11 starts following that deadline deal, Montgomery posted a sterling 2.79 ERA that was 60% better than league average by measure of ERA+ with a FIP of 3.27. While his 2023 strikeout rate of 21.4% was more solid than elite, his already strong 6.2% walk rate this season improved to a phenomenal 4.9% figure during his time with the Rangers down the stretch. Montgomery paired his ability to limit the free pass with a 43.2% groundball rate that placed him just outside the top-20 by that metric among qualified starters this season. It was more of the same during Montgomery’s six postseason appearances for Texas this October, during which he posted a 2.90 ERA in 31 innings of work.

Montgomery’s strong 2023 caps off a trio of three seasons that have seen the southpaw establish himself as a quality front-end starter for a playoff-caliber team. In splitting his time between the Yankees, Cardinals, and Rangers from 2021-23, Montgomery has posted a 3.48 ERA and 3.62 FIP while making at least 30 starts in each of those seasons. Over the past three seasons, Montgomery is one of just 20 pitchers to record at least 500 innings of work, a feat that establishes him as one of the game’s premiere workhorses at this point in his career.

Given his recent performance and the number of teams known to be in the market for starting pitching this offseason, Montgomery is at least a plausible fit for plenty of clubs. The Rangers are certainly included in that. While the club’s Opening Day rotation can at least be plausibly filled with Max Scherzer, Nathan Eovaldi, Jon Gray, Dane Dunning, and Andrew Heaney, both Dunning and Heaney spent time in the bullpen for Texas in 2023 in addition to their time in the rotation. It’s also worth noting that each of Scherzer, Eovaldi, and Gray spent significant time on the injured list this past season, while Heaney has a lengthy injury history of his own.

While ace righty Jacob deGrom could return from Tommy John surgery sometime next season, deGrom wouldn’t exactly provide reliable innings coming off the second Tommy John surgery of his career and with just 186 2/3 innings of work over the past three seasons of his career. Given the substantial injury risk in the Rangers’ currently projected rotation, reuniting with Montgomery would be a sensible decision to add some stability to a front-of-the-rotation picture that otherwise features a pair of oft-injured veterans in Scherzer and Eovaldi and could add a third arm befitting of that description in deGrom later in the year.

Of course, a deal is hardly a slam-dunk even in spite of the clear fit and interest on Texas’s end of the equation. After all, Montgomery has already been linked to three other teams this offseason and plenty of clubs are in need of starting pitching help and could enter the market for his services as the offseason progresses. What’s more, the Rangers are expected to make improving the club’s bullpen a focus of their offseason after the club’s relief corps posted a brutal 4.77 ERA in 2023. Though the addition of Montgomery would allow the club to improve the bullpen by moving Heaney or Dunning into a multi-inning relief role, the club’s bullpen would likely benefit far more from the addition of a late-inning arm like Josh Hader or NPB lefty Yuki Matsui.

Such a signing wouldn’t necessarily preclude the Rangers from adding Montgomery, as they’ve hardly shied away from making multiple significant additions in recent offseasons. That being said, it’s fair to at least wonder how much the club plans on increasing its payroll (which already sits at $214MM for next year according to RosterResource) in light of recent reporting that Diamond Sports Group is considering dropping Rangers broadcasts ahead of the 2024 campaign. If Diamond were to do so, it would leave the Rangers without a distribution partner for local broadcasting, a reality that has already led the Twins toward cutting payroll this offseason.

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