HomeMLB RumorsThe Opener: Montgomery, Steele, LeMahieu

The Opener: Montgomery, Steele, LeMahieu

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With MLB’s 2024 regular season officially underway, here are three things worth keeping an eye on for MLBTR readers headed into the weekend:

1. Montgomery deal to be made official:

The Diamondbacks landed the last top-tier free agent on the market earlier this week when they signed southpaw Jordan Montgomery to a one-year deal that includes a vesting option for the 2025 season. Montgomery, 31, helped the Rangers defeat Arizona in the World Series just five months ago but now figures to join the Diamondbacks’ rotation alongside Zac Gallen, Merrill Kelly, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Brandon Pfaadt when the group is at full strength. Montgomery’s deal with the Snakes is expected to be made official today with a press conference to introduce the club’s newest arm, as noted by USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. The club won’t need to make a corresponding move to add Montgomery to its 40-man roster after designating infielder Emmanuel Rivera for assignment yesterday.

2. Steele headed to the IL?

It was a rough Opening Day for the Cubs, as the club not only fell 4-3 in extra innings against the Rangers in Texas last night but staff ace Justin Steele exited the game in the fifth inning due to what manager Craig Counsell termed a hamstring strain. Counsell did not sound optimistic about Steele’s odds of avoiding a trip to the injured list over the issue and declined to speculate on a timetable for the lefty’s return to a big league mound in the immediate aftermath of the injury. Instead, Counsell indicated that the club will know more after Steele undergoes an MRI scheduled for today.

The 28-year-old hurler has been a major bright spot for the Cubs in recent years and finished fifth in the NL Cy Young award race last season. Since the start of the 2022 campaign, Steele has pitched to an excellent 3.09 ERA with a nearly identical 3.08 FIP in 297 innings of work across 55 starts. Steele’s dominance continued in his first start of the 2024 campaign, as he held the reigning World Series champions to just one run on three hits and a walk across 4 2/3 innings of work while striking out six. While Steele is out of commission the Cubs figure to either rely on Drew Smyly, who took the loss last night after entering the game in the tenth inning last night, or else turn to a younger arm currently at Triple-A such as Hayden Wesneski or Ben Brown to fill the gap in their rotation mix.

3. LeMahieu to undergo second MRI:

Veteran infielder DJ LeMahieu began the 2024 campaign on the Yankees’ injured list after fouling a ball off his foot during Spring Training. While it once appeared likely that the injury would result in only a minimal absence, Brendan Kuty of The Athletic earlier this week reported that the swelling in LeMahieu’s foot had yet to go down. The club scheduled a second MRI for today in hopes of confirming the severity of the issue after the injury hadn’t improved as much as both player and club were hoping. It’s possible today’s testing will provide more clarity on the veteran’s timetable for return, but in the meantime New York figures to turn to Oswaldo Cabrera and newly-acquired utilityman Jon Berti at the hot corner in LeMahieu’s absence. The 35-year-old LeMahieu was roughly league average at the plate in a down season last year but has a strong .285/.358/.430 slash line since joining the Yankees prior to the 2019 season.

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