Phillies Discuss Free Agent After Injury to $72 Million Former All-Star: Insider

Dave Dombrowksi

Getty Philadelphia Phillies president Dave Dombrowski could look to the free-agent market with a starter out for Opening Day.

The Philadelphia Phillies spent nearly $300 million this offseason in an effort to shore up their starting rotation for the future, extending both Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler to nine-figure deals.

But the pitching staff is entering 2024 with some question marks around Taijuan Walker, who signed a $72 million deal with the Phillies in 2022 and is now set to start the season on the injured list. That development has pushed the team to consider opening up the payroll to a premier addition, according to USA Today’s MLB insider Bob Nightengale.

“The Philadelphia Phillies are at least internally discussing the possibility of pursuing free agent starter Jordan Montgomery but no decision has been made on whether they plan to contact agent Scott Boras,” Nightengale wrote. “There’s a renewed sense of urgency with Taijuan Walker opening the season on the injured list with a sore shoulder.”

After he helped lead the Texas Rangers to a World Series championship with a 2.79 ERA across 11 regular-season starts with the team last season, Montgomery has been at the top of many free-agency lists. But Joel Sherman of the New York Post has reported that Montgomery is seeking a deal similar to Nola’s — something in the $172 million range — which might explain why he remains a free agent this close to Opening Day.

The Philadelphia Phillies Have ‘Powder’ for an Addition Like Jordan Montgomery

The Phillies are regularly among the top spenders in MLB, and recent mega deals for the likes of Bryce Harper and Trea Turner show that the front office isn’t afraid to spend. As a result, it’s hard to count them out from any addition that could improve their World Series chances.

To that effect, principal owner John Middleton recently indicated the team was still saving some “powder” for a marquee addition before the trade deadline, if one seemed available. But Walker’s injury might have changed that timeline.

“The team will likely want a short term deal, but based on the lack of other interest in Montgomery perhaps the Phillies can get a deal done?” Evan Macy asked for PhillyVoice. “An addition of a pitcher of this caliber wasn’t expected until perhaps the All-Star break, but it would provide the Phillies with a really impressive top four of Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Ranger Suarez and Montgomery.”

The Philadelphia Phillies Have a Deep Rotation, With or Without Jordan Montgomery

For now, the Phillies are expected to anoint Spencer Turnbull the fifth member of the rotation with Walker out. But neither player would carry the same potential as Montgomery. Walker, who was an All-Star in 2021, had a 4.38 ERA across 31 starts last season while Turnbull had a 7.26 ERA in seven starts with the Detroit Tigers.

Between Wheeler, Nola, Suarez and Cristopher Sanchez, the team already has one of the deeper starting staffs in MLB, even without Walker. But the chance to add Montgomery might be too intriguing to pass up as the team looks toward a World Series championship this season.

“If Philly wants outside help to bolster its pitching staff, then Montgomery is far and away the top option on the table,” Joseph Zucker wrote for Bleacher Report. “There’s a sizable gap between him and the best of what’s left.”

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