Improbable move before Opening Day: Phillies get Jordan Montgomery, Taijuan Walker departs
The Phillies have emerged as a dark horse team in the running for two of the major free agents left on the market, Cody Bellinger and Jordan Montgomery. Both could fill specific holes for the team, but adding one of last season's postseason heroes would catapult the Phillies rotation into conversations about the best in the league.
It's an unlikely option, but it would be a no-brainer if the Phillies can land a pitcher of Montgomery's caliber for a short-term deal. Dombrowski recently said, yet again, that he's happy with the rotation but isn't closing the door on a late addition.
Last season between St. Louis and Texas, the 31-year-old pitched to a 3.20 ERA over 188 innings. Montgomery consistently has low walk rates, only having more than three walks per nine innings in one season of his career. The long-time Yankee likely would slot into the rotation as the No. 3 starter. That would slide another postseason hero, Ranger Suárez, down to No. 4 and potentially make Taijuan Walker expendable.
Walker, 31, is coming off his first season with the Phillies, pitching in 31 games and allowing a 4.38 ERA over 172 innings. After not building enough trust with the staff after a lackluster regular season with countless slow starts to ball games, Walker was left out of every postseason game, not making one appearance in 2023.
Adding a pitcher the caliber of Jordan Montgomery would vastly increase the Phillies' pitching staff and would stamp their place as one of the favorites in the MLB. But if Dombrowski and the front office make this move, it would be in their best interest to explore trade options for Walker and his $50 million due over the next three seasons.
A trade scenario for Walker would need to consist of a team that is somewhat competitive, looking for a back-end rotation starter and wouldn't feel the stress of taking on the $54 million remaining on his contract. Attaching a mid-level prospect to the right-hander could increase his value to the point where a team like the Marlins or the Brewers might be willing to pull the trigger on a deal.