Cubs Injury Leads to New Call to Sign Projected $110 Million ‘Great Fit’

Cubs starter Jameson Taillon has a back injury, leading to calls for Jordan Montgomery to be signed.

Getty Cubs starter Jameson Taillon has a back injury, leading to calls for Jordan Montgomery to be signed.

All around MLB, as a number of injuries have already dimmed the hopes of several teams with thin starting pitching staffs, calls for the signing of World Series hero and disappointed free-agent pitcher Jordan Montgomery have grown louder. With the back injury that has flared up for Jameson Taillon—projected as the Cubs’ No. 2 starter—we can now add the North Siders to the list of teams that might need to rethink their approach on Montgomery.

There is a chance, of course, that Taillon’s injury could be short-lived and he might not miss more than one start. But back injuries can be tricky, and there is also a chance it will flare up repeatedly this season. Add to that pile the fact that the No. 5 spot has not yet been won by Jordan Wicks, who has been impressive in the spring, and there has to be concern about the rotation’s depth.

As Matt Cozzi, who does analysis of the Cubs every day for the, “Locked on Cubs,” podcast said, there is a simple solution out there: signing Montgomery.

“There’s a starter with a strong resume that remains unsigned. Jordan Montgomery is the one that .. still remains unsigned and in my mind he still remains a great fit for the Cubs,” Cozzi said.

Jordan Montgomery Wants a Long-Term Deal

Montgomery has been holding out for a long-term deal, as has N.L. Cy Young award winner Blake Snell, who is also a fellow client of superagent Scott Boras. And Spotrac has Montgomery’s value at $18.4 million per year, pinning his market value on a six-year, $110 million contract. Alas, no such contract has been forthcoming as Spring Training wears on.

Thus, the key would be for Montgomery to take the same kind of contract that Cody Bellinger and Matt Chapman (both also Boras clients) took after missing out on long-term deals. Each accepted three-year contracts with opt-outs that allow them back into the free-agent market next year.

Montgomery is 31 but has a career record of 38-34 with a 3.68 ERA. He struggled early in his career in New York but has been solid for two years since, going 19-17 with a 3.34 ERA in 64 starts for three teams. He was 3-1 in the Rangers’ playoff run to the championship last fall, with a 2.90 ERA.

Montgomery would give the Cubs a top option as a No. 2 starter behind Justin Steele, with Shota Imanaga slotted in at No. 3. In the early part of the season, the Cubs could stretch out the rotation to get Imanaga accustomed to pitching every five days, which means they’d use three starters on the back end.

Cubs Prospects ‘Blocked’ by Montgomery Addition?

One of the objections that Cozzi mentioned on the podcast was the notion that the signing of Montgomery would “block” Cubs prospects from being able to come to the big leagues and start contributing. The Cubs do have one of the best farm systems in baseball, and some potentially big-league-ready starters—Cade Horton, Ben Brown—who could appear at Wrigley Field this summer.

But prospects are risks, and the rotation remains thin enough to accommodate the addition of Montgomery. As Cozzi said, “This is why a ‘blocking’ conversation … does not exist. No. 1, you don’t know if the prospects are going to be good, no offense to the prospect lovers. And No. 2, blocking someone doesn’t exist because injuries exist.”

More important, that Cubs need good pitchers. And Montgomery is one.

“He’s really good. He just won a World Series,” Cozzi said. “So, I have some contract terms in front of me that look similar to the Bellinger deal. If the Boras camp wakes up this week and is like, ‘Oh, the long-term deal isn’t out there, the calendar is not on our side,’ eventually, reality is going to hit for these dudes just like it did for Bellinger and (Matt) Chapman.

“So I really would like to see the Cubs go to what would be the second threshold of the luxury tax and bring this guy in.”

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