The Yankees know the big lefty well. Montgomery was a rotation regular for five-and-a-half years after New York drafted him out of South Carolina. He also happens to be one of the top free agents remaining on the market.
Add that Montgomery just won a World Series with the Texas Rangers, and his value is sky high. Especially since he found confidence in his fastball with the Cardinals, who acquired him from New York in a surprising trade in 2022.
Some added context. With the Yankees, as he detailed on an episode of R2C2, Montgomery was primarily an offspeed pitcher. His cutter and changeup were his bread and butter because the Yankees’ analytics team said so. No need for a fastball, those two pitches were what he needed.
Except ever since leaving the Yankees, Jordan Montgomery has gotten better thanks to…his fastball. His average velocity on the pitch last season was a career-best 93.3 mph. In New York, it never rose above 92.5. He’s also given up less and less home runs since leaving New York.
In Yankee Stadium, to paraphrase the great Ron Burgundy, that’s kind of a big deal.
Of course, this all depends on mutual interest. Montgomery, upset as he was at being traded, insists there’s no “bad blood” between him and the Yankees. Both sides know each other well, and pitching coach Matt Blake will adapt his approach since Montgomery is now a different pitcher.
The money isn’t an issue at all. The Yankees were ready to offer Yamamoto $300 million and Jordan Montgomery isn’t commanding anything close to that.
However, the Yankees are desperate enough for pitching that they might need to offer a little bigger. Not so obscenely close to offer a deal worth over $250 million, mind you. Montgomery isn’t getting that money and, if we’re being honest, neither is recent Cy Young-winner Blake Snell.
So how much will it take to convince Jordan Montgomery to come back where it all began? Well, he’s days away from turning 31 and health isn’t an issue. His Tommy John surgery in 2019 basically cost him two seasons.
As to performance, that’s where things get tough. Montgomery has proven to be an ace-caliber arm more than capable of pitching in the playoffs. He posted a 3.20 overall ERA with St. Louis and Texas last year, and posted an even better 2.79 mark with the Rangers.
Now, add a 2.90 ERA in last season’s playoffs. The Yankees don’t have to sign Jordan Montgomery, but they don’t really have any reasons not to sign him.
But most important of all, is there mutual interest? The Post’s Jon Heyman reported so last month and, as we’ve already said, the Yankees have the money. Moreover, with Yamamoto off the market, the Yankees need someone like Jordan Montgomery.
The past is in the past and, unfortunately, the Yankees’ trading Jordan Montgomery made sense in 2022. Now that his potential has been untapped, it doesn’t hurt to pay him a little more than he’s worth.
There is absolutely room for a deal at, let’s say seven years and $215 million, plus a mutual option for 2031?
Keep in mind, Snell is almost certainly getting $30 million a year after winning his second Cy Young. The Yankees were ready to offer well above that to Yamamoto, who hasn’t even pitched in MLB. Giving Montgomery the above salary is small potatoes.
We’re at that time folks, and now we say the magic words.
Mr. Cashman, your move.