Phillies rumor: Team called Cubs for Mike Montgomery trade

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 19: Mike Montgomery
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 19: Mike Montgomery /

A new arm could be coming to the Phillies starting rotation

As part of a public push to acquire a veteran pitcher for their starting rotation, the Phillies reportedly contacted the Chicago Cubs on the availability of left-hander Mike Montgomery.

Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reported Wednesday night that Philadelphia had contacted the Cubs even before Chicago signed Yu Darvish. Now that Darvish is locked into the Cubs rotation, the 28-year-old Montgomery is certainly expendable.

Montgomery makes sense for the Phillies for several reasons, and the main one is that he’s a southpaw. Only four pitchers on the Phillies 40-man roster are lefties; three are major league bullpen arms Adam Morgan, Zac Curtis, and Hoby Millner and the other is prospect Ranger Suarez, who hasn’t pitched above Advanced-A Lakewood.

In addition to being the lone lefty in the starting rotation Montgomery has pitched in as many games as Jerad Eickhoff, Nick Pivetta, and Ben Lively combined.

Philadelphia Phillies
Philadelphia Phillies /

Philadelphia Phillies

One major question surrounding Montgomery is whether or not he’s best-suited as a starter long-term. Between the Mariners and Cubs Montgomery has pitched in 109 games, just 37 being starts. Part of that is because of a loaded Cubs rotation in recent years with Jon Lester, John Lackey, Jake Arrieta, Jose Quintana, and Kyle Hendricks.

Philadelphia has Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez, and Nick Pivetta penciled into the starting rotation with Ben Lively the leading candidate for the fifth spot. Jake Thompson, Mark Leiter Jr., and Zach Eflin will also compete for a starting job.

General manager Matt Klentak doesn’t want to pay a veteran pitcher an exhuberant amount of money or have a long-term commitment to a risky player, thus stalling the free agent market beyond Carlos Santana and the bullpen.

Last season Montgomery made just 14 starts with 30 relief appearances, compiling a 7-8 record with a respectable 3.38 ERA. He struck out 100 batters and walked 55 in 130.2 innings between the rotation and ‘pen, all of which were career-highs.

Montgomery has been traded three times in his professional career since being drafted 36th overall by Kansas City in 2008. The Royals sent Montgomery, Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, and minor leaguer Patrick Leonard to Tampa Bay in 2012 for James Shields, Wade Davis, and minor leaguer Elliot Johnson.

SEATTLE, WA – JULY 27: Starting pitcher Mike Montgomery
SEATTLE, WA – JULY 27: Starting pitcher Mike Montgomery /

Prior to Opening Day in 2015 Tampa Bay shipped Montgomery across the country to Seattle for pitcher Erasmo Ramirez. After throwing back-to-back complete game shutouts that season for Seattle and coming eight outs away from a no-hitter, Montgomery was flipped at the deadline to Chicago along with Jordan Pries for Paul Blackburn and Daniel Vogelbach.

A price for Montgomery likely isn’t high considering he hasn’t cemented himself as a major league starter after three years with two teams. Philadelphia would need to clear a spot on the 40-man roster to make room for Montgomery, although that doesn’t lock in a player being moved to Chicago.

However, the Cubs could use a right-handed bat with power off the bench. Would a Tommy Joseph for Mike Montgomery trade be enticing for either side? Chicago doesn’t have a primary back-up to lefty Anthony Rizzo at first, and switch-hitter Ben Zobrist is coming back from an off 2017 season at the age of 35.

Next: Phillies: Breaking down the spring training roster battles

Don’t expect a trade to be imminent, but if the Phillies can not sign a veteran free agent such as Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn, Jason Vargas, or Alex Cobb they could revisit a trade with Chicago for Montgomery to fill the final spot in the rotation.