Yankees should see what it will take to bring back Jordan Montgomery

TAMPA — There is no website that provides a clearinghouse of just how desperate any team is to add starting pitching and how much money each is willing to spend to diminish that desperation.

That would be a dastardly combination of anti-competitive and pro-collusive. So there is no http://www.getapitcher.com.

Instead, like teams do, we can gather intel and marry it to common sense and start here: the regular season already has begun for two teams in South Korea and will for all others next Thursday. Yet, Jordan Montgomery remained unemployed. He is 31 and not the type ready to take a year off for a Buddhist retreat to contemplate the meaning of life.

Therefore, we can reasonably assume he will play major league baseball in 2024. The mystery remains where? And for how much?

At some point this offseason, Montgomery, through his representative Scott Boras, was seeking a value in line with the seven years, $172 million deal struck between Aaron Nola and the Phillies. But there also was a time this offseason that other pertinent Boras clients — Cody Bellinger, Matt Chapman and Blake Snell — were requesting way more than the two- or three-year pacts they struck in recent weeks that have opt-outs after each season. So can we assume Montgomery’s price is falling precipitously too?

The Yankees should make a renewed push to bring back Jordan Montgomery and work through any past hard feelings between the two parties. AP

The belief also was that Montgomery preferred to return to Texas, where he was central to a World Series title last season. The Rangers have been financially reticent, citing the uncertainty around how much they would receive from their bankrupt regional sports network. Plus any sliver of reconsideration likely evaporated Wednesday when Texas agreed with Michael Lorenzen for $4.5 million to help it survive until the surgically addressed Jacob deGrom, Tyler Mahle and Max Scherzer potentially return to the rotation in a few months.

The belief also was that Montgomery had no desire for a Yankees reunion, still stung by his trade to St. Louis in July 2022 under the explanation that the organization that drafted him did not think him quality enough to be in its postseason rotation.

But how much choice does Montgomery have to be exclusionary at this late date? I asked three executives in the past 24 hours to use the entire chessboard and pick someplace that still could deliver a significant multiyear deal for Montgomery and, well … Maybe the confounding Red Sox might break from austerity or the Twins recognize they can greatly improve their AL Central chances or the Astros’ rotation problems are so severe. But nothing was offered with conviction.

Instead, the officials kept stating that probably a half-dozen or more teams have various jump-in points if the price drops. I think some club will have a higher tolerance to beat the Yankees to Montgomery — maybe even the Mets are in that group.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

And, generally at this time of year, I fall into the good teams figure out how to win without throwing money at every problem. But there is not usually inventory as good as Montgomery still on the shelf when the likelihood is so strong that the Yankees will need to add a starter between now and July 30, considering the sudden uncertainty around Gerrit Cole mixed with levels of frailty with Nestor Cortes, Carlos Rodon and Marcus Stroman?

Hal Steinbrenner has been reluctant to expand payroll considering the 110 percent tax on every dollar. The Yanks, for example, are eyeing a better utility infield option than Kevin Smith, but didn’t see Santiago Espinal (traded from Toronto to Cincinnati on Wednesday) as enough of an upgrade to take on not just his $2.725 million salary, but also another nearly $3 million in tax.

Because analytically he is not a big swing-and-miss pitcher, Montgomery has been compared more to Eduardo Rodriguez, who signed with Arizona for four years at $80 million. Even if Montgomery did that deal, it would cost the Yanks $42 million this year between salary and tax. Perhaps Montgomery would defer dollars to lower the cost in exchange for, say, an opt-out after Years 2 and 3.

And remember, every team puts a future dollar value on prospects and so what is traded to obtain a player in July has a cost beyond his salary. Right now, Montgomery costs just money because — unlike Snell — he could not be made the qualifying offer. Thus, the Yanks would not also forfeit second- and fifth-round picks plus $1 million in international signing pool money to sign him.

In addition, come July, there is no certainty that the Yanks would win a battle for a starter they prefer. When that last happened, they got Frankie Montas rather than Luis Castillo in 2022. They could get a few extra months out of Montgomery before the trade deadline while not worrying if they can win the prospect auction in July.

And, again, don’t dismiss Montgomery removing the mystery if he can handle New York and October — something the Yanks worried about with Snell. Montgomery may profile as a No. 3 starter, but like championship teammate Nathan Eovaldi, can rise in big moments, unperturbed by the month or environment.

There is no public knowledge about what it would take to sign Montgomery, but the Yanks should push a little toward discomfort to see if they can make it happen.

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