Should the Padres take a risk with Frankie Montas?

Sep 9, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Frankie Montas (47) pitches in the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The Padres need starting rotation depth. Should they risk signing Frankie Montas after a lost season?

The Padres need pitching badly. Still, even after the Juan Soto trade that netted the Friars Michael King, Drew Thorpe, Jhony Brito, Randy Vásquez, and backup catcher Kyle Higashioka, the Padres have a giant need in the pitching staff.

The current projected rotation is…

Joe Musgrove

Yu Darvish

Michael King

Randy Vasquez

Jhony Brito or Matt Waldron

King shows promise but is yet to pitch more than 104 innings in the major leagues. Vazquez has less than 40 innings of MLB experience. Brito was league average after his first 90 innings of work in his MLB career.

Waldron was pressed into duty late in the year for the Padres due to the rotation being decimated by injuries. In eight games (six starts), he posted a 4.35 ERA and 94 ERA+. Another offseason with pitching coach Ruben Niebla may help him become a viable swing starter.

One or more of those young players could pan out and be major contributors in 2024. Still, there is a severe lack of depth in the starting rotation. They need experience and depth while also not breaking the bank.

Frankie Montas provides that at what is assumed to be a cheap option. He missed basically the entire 2023 season with shoulder issues after making just 19 starts in 2022. The health issues certainly pose a concern. However, where the Padres stand with their lack of depth, the move may prove necessary.

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Montas is just two seasons removed from finishing sixth in AL Cy Young voting in 2021 with Oakland. That year, he made 32 starts and pitched 187 innings with a solid 3.37 ERA and 122 ERA+.

Since beginning his career with the Athletics in 2017, he owns a 3.87 ERA and 105 ERA+. He has shown he can be an above-average starting pitcher in this league. He has posted three seasons of a better than 100 ERA+, including a stellar 164 in 2019.

In 2022, he ranked in the 86th percentile for chase rate and 78th percentile for hard-hit rate allowed. In two of the last three seasons, he surpassed 140 innings pitched.

He was traded to the Yankees at the deadline in 2022, but injuries and underperformance plagued his audition in New York pinstripes.

The Padres need to replace over 570 innings from losing Blake Snell, Michael Wacha, Seth Lugo, and Nick Martinez.

Montas appears to be a low-risk, cheaper option to provide an infusion of depth and experience to a shaky rotation. Another benefit of adding Montas to the mix is that pushes one of the back-end possible starters like Waldron, Brito, or Vazquez into the bullpen, lengthening the pitching staff.

The Dominican right-hander is projected to be at around $8 million per season in a possible deal. That certainly is within the Padres’ tight budget to fill holes around the roster. He is also projected to get 1.9 fWAR. That would surpass Nick Martinez’s contribution to the 2023 squad (1.4).

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