The Cincinnati Reds offseason of adding continued Saturday when they reportedly signed veteran righty Frankie Montas to a deal “in the $15-$16 million range”. Montas joins Nick Martinez and Emilio Pagan on the list pitchers the Reds have added this offseason.
Montas, more known for his time in Oakland, was traded to the Yankees at the 2022 trade deadline where he posted a 6.35 ERA across eight starts. His 2023 was limited to 1.1 innings due to injury.
Overall, Montas has been a solid starter and very well could return to form in Cincinnati. His home/road splits from his time in Oakland are concerning posting an ERA of 3.28 at the Oakland Coliseum and around a 4.50 ERA on the road. Of course, home/road splits are not the only factor of a pitcher’s success.
Cincinnati adds a veteran arm with a five-pitch mix including a fastball that sat 96 miles per hour pre-injury. Montas works a splitter off his fastball, which is a pitch the Reds organization seems very interested in and has helped other pitches find success with. He’s not going to rack up a ton of strikeouts but does produce a groundballs at a good clip and has struggled with home runs at times.
The Reds are a contender for the NL Central and have been rumored to several big name pitchers all offseason. There’s no doubt adding another high end arm to this rotation was one of the top offseason priorities.
Hunter Greene still could take his game to another level, Andrew Abbott showed well for a rookie, and Graham Ashcraft returned to form. Lefty Nick Lodolo is often injured and working back while Brandon Williamson showed he is at the very least a Major League caliber arm. Several prospects including Connor Phillips are knocking on the door, so why do the Reds need more?
Having options, and depth, is absolutley necessary in this day in age. Pitchers deal with injuries at an alarming high clip. The Reds have enough to get through a season, now. Having high-end talent to go head-to-head with other top teams in the playoffs is where the Reds could use another proven starter.
While Montas has shown frontline ability at times, I see this is a risky move. Not only because of the numbers on the road I outlined earlier, but his struggles in New York, followed by an injury that essentially cost him a year is not exactly what I had in mind for the Reds.
Don’t get me wrong, Montas makes the rotation better. This move likely bumps Nick Martinez into the long man in the bullpen while adding a pitcher who should slot into the number three spot in the rotation and provide roughly a 4.00 – 4.25 ERA. You no longer are relying on rookies to come in and immediately contribute. But, does this mean the Reds are finished with the rotation?
If it does, the Reds are in a better spot than they were last season, without a doubt. I would have preferred an addition that was not coming off injury and (small sample size) poor performance. Although, we have seen the Oakland, to poor Yankees stint, to successful Reds career work in the past with Sony Gray.
IF, and that’s a big if, the Reds are not finished, than I like this move much more.
Let’s just dream for a minute. Montas is your three or four, and the Reds move what now feels like a slight surplus of pitching to land a bona fide front-line starter. Wouldn’t that be something. Likely? Probably not at this point.
The Reds are better today than they were yesterday. How much better is the big question. Do we see a healthy Montas in a lower pressure (thank NY) situation with a tweak or two produce at a high level? Completely in the realm of possibilities.
Or, do we look back in August wishing the money and innings were allocated to a different arm?
At the end of the day, Cincinnati is spending money. They are looking at area where they can improve, and attacking them. If nothing else, that alone is a good sign. The front office understands winning the division is very possible and is adding ligament, proven talent.